Gerhard Labuschagne’s father told him to immerse himself in the Australian way of life when the Labuschagne family moved here from South Africa in 2001. Gerhard Jnr was 14 years old.
Fast forward 17 years to Riverside 1 on Saturday and you saw the manifestation of that sage advice – 30-year-old Labuschagne tearing in en route to claiming 5-25 from 10.5 overs as Bective East secured an upset outright win over South Tamworth. He bagged seven wickets for the match – his best performance of the year “by a mile”, he said.
Now in his second season with Bective after moving to Tamworth from Leongatha, rural Victoria, in 2015, Labuschagne is loving life and cricket as Bective rebound from a poor first half to the season.
Tamworth reminds him of his hometown in South Africa, Ventersdorp, where his father, Gerhard, worked as a cattle vet, specialising in dairy, and Gerhard Snr’s namesake grew up playing cricket.
Since December 2015, Labuschagne has run the Econo Lodge in Tamworth with his mother, Cavell, and his partner, Upasana. His father still works as a vet in Leongatha and visits when he can. “[We’re] trying to get him to retire. He’s done a lot for us,” Labuschagne said.
He added: “When we moved here, one of the big things Dad told us is to embrace the Aussie culture and take it on, and that’s pretty much what we’ve done. And we haven’t looked back. We really enjoy it here – it’s great.”
He is enjoying his cricket more now that Bective are starting to realise their potential. Stacked with talent, the side claimed their first outright victory of the season by enforcing the follow-on after making 232 on day one and then bowling third-placed Souths out for 103.
In the second innings, Souths were dismissed for 113 in the 44th over, with Labuschagne dismissing four of the top six batsmen – Brock Morley (five), Blake Fitzgerald (48), Tom Groth (six) and Jack Massey (one).
Bective are now 6.46 points behind fourth-placed North Tamworth with two two-day matches matches remaining before the semi-finals. After doubting themselves for much of the season, Bective’s third win is possibly their most important.
“We had a pretty rough start last year,” Labuschagne said. “We were down in the dumps for most of the games last year. We’ve got an extreme amount of talent … It just feels like the tide’s really turning for us.
“And it’s just great today [Saturday] to get a big win like that. It just really shows what we are capable of, and hopefully we can ride that on and hopefully get finals.
“Our goal was to get finals. I think a lot of people have written us off … Two games to go. We just really need to give it a shake.”