Marnus Labuschagne, Australia’s top-order batsman who bowls a bit of leg-spin, is yet to catch the fancy of Australians with his game but his name already has.
Most people and fellow players here struggle to get the pronunciation of his last name right, and often end up coming up with hilarious substitutes. Labuschagne is playing his third Test for Australia and you may wonder why all the drama around the name now. It could be because his first two Tests were in the UAE against Australia, and it’s unlikely many Australians would have followed those games.
The 24-year-old was born in South Africa and moved to Australia as an eight-year-old when his parents migrated following the end of the Apartheid. Labuschagne didn’t even know a word of English when he landed in Australia as he had grown up in the part of South Africa where only, or mostly, Afrikaans was spoken.
In the commentary box, the pronunciation of his name is discussed more than his bowling skills that have been far from threatening. None of them is getting it right except Harsha Bhogle who is the lone Indian commentator on Fox Sports, one of the two official broadcasters. And that’s because he made an attempt to get it correct by meeting the player himself.
The Afrikaans name is actually pronounced Laa-bou-skhuk-knee but he is resigned to the fact that the Australians can’t say it how it exactly should be. He is willing to settle for Lah-buh-shane as advised by his wife.
The Cricket Australia website (cricket.com.au) asked several Aussie players to pronounce Labuschagne’s name and not one of them got it right. From Lar-boo-shane to Lar-boo-shag-knee and from Laa-boo-Shane to Lar-boo-Sguk-knee, they were all off the mark.
Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood went a step ahead and asked if it was “loose bus change” while Shaun Marsh wondered if it was “lasagna!”
And you thought what’s in a name!