Ukraine, Climate Change, ‘Euphoria’: Your Monday Evening Briefing

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/28/briefing/ukraine-climate-change-euphoria.html

(Want to get this newsletter in your inbox? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Monday.

1. Russia fired rockets at a residential area of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, just as envoys from Russia and Ukraine sat down for talks.

The bombardment of Kharkiv killed at least nine civilians and wounded dozens, according to Ukrainian officials. It was an ominous sign of Russia’s escalating use of lethal force on the fifth day of its invasion.

Explosions were also heard in Kyiv, the capital, as the talks ended without a resolution; a Russian official said another meeting would be held in the coming days.

In an attempt to limit the damage, the Russian Central Bank doubled its key interest rate, banned foreigners from selling Russian securities and ordered exporters to convert most of their foreign-currency revenues into rubles.

Over the weekend, the U.S., Europe, Canada and other allies took steps to impose sanctions on Russia’s central bank — an unprecedented move that made it nearly impossible for Russia to defend its currency.

Switzerland, a favorite destination for Russian oligarchs and their money, announced that it would freeze Russian financial assets. Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, said it would exit its investments in Russia, a day after BP said it would do the same.


3. Climate change is harming the planet faster than we can adapt, according to a major U.N. report.

Unless governments act quickly and reduce the current level of greenhouse gas output, the effects of climate change could soon overwhelm both nature and humanity, causing catastrophic damage.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the U.N., concludes that nations aren’t doing nearly enough to protect cities, farms and coastlines. Adaptation measures like flood barriers are too often “incremental,” the report said, while the looming climate threats require “transformational” changes.

5. What would you grab to carry with you if you had only a few hours to flee?

More than 120,000 people who were airlifted out of Afghanistan last August were forced to make that choice after the Taliban swept into Kabul, the nation’s capital, and took over.

Yalda Royan, a 42-year-old single mother and women’s rights activist, took with her the family’s pocket-size Quran. Worried for her daughters’ lives in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, they burned all of their English documents and fled. Now the Quran, which one of her daughters held on to throughout the escape, sits on a small table in their house in Ashburn, Va.

Read Yalda’s story and those of five other Afghans who had to decide what items meant the most to them when fleeing to the U.S.

6. At least 230 Confederate symbols have been removed, relocated or renamed since the murder of George Floyd two years ago. Here’s how the movement was unleashed.

Some of the monuments were toppled in disorderly waves at the hands of protesters. Others were methodically unearthed, piece by piece, by government workers responding to the protests and fury. They came down like dominoes in the spring and summer of 2020.

The social justice movement quickly spread beyond one man’s death because the kindling was already there. Activists pointed to the myriad ways in which racism helped create disparities, and they called for racial justice in many facets of American life. Others declared that the nation’s history and Southern pride were unjustly under siege and in danger of being erased.


7. While big leaguers fight with owners about labor issues, minor leaguers are preparing for another slog of a season.

8. A soap company is dipping into psychedelic drug lobbying.

Dr. Bronner’s, the liquid soap company best known for the cosmic text on labels, has become one of the country’s biggest financial supporters of efforts to win mainstream acceptance of psilocybin and other mind-altering drugs.

The company has donated more than $23 million to drug advocacy and research since 2015, helped fund activist groups pushing to decriminalize “magic mushrooms” in Oregon and Washington, D.C., and spent millions on efforts to legalize cannabis.

The company is now run by the grandsons of the free-spirited founder, Emil Bronner, whose loquacious genius often danced on the edge of madness. “He probably would have put LSD in his soaps,” said David Bronner, the firm’s chief executive.


9. HBO’s “Euphoria” has millions of devoted watchers. But in the wake of a controversial finale, many of them aren’t fans of the show’s creator.

Sam Levinson, who wrote all 18 hourlong episodes of “Euphoria,” and directed all but three, has emerged as a central figure in the narrative around the show, which just wrapped up its second season over the weekend. A portion of the show’s sizable fan base — nearly 19 million people watched the first episode — routinely criticize Levinson, on Twitter and TikTok especially, for his portrayals of the characters.

Some critics say he inappropriately sexualizes the woman characters and appropriates experiences closely tied with marginalized groups, while others say he simply mistreats their favorite characters. However, it is unlikely that Levinson will ever leave the show, which operates without a writers’ room. “This show can’t be written by anyone else because it’s so personal,” said Zendaya, a star on the show.


10. And finally, we have not yet reached peak plant milk.

American shoppers have witnessed a proliferation of milk substitutes in grocery store aisles over the last decade — products made from a wide variety of nuts, seeds, grains and legumes — as more people have been converted by the health, environmental and ethical benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet. But experts say the trend of alternative milks is still on the upswing.

“I don’t think there is an end in sight for dairy alternative innovation — or at least not anytime soon,” said Sydney Olson, a food and drink analyst.

Next on the list: potato milk, which, according to a report from the British supermarket chain Waitrose, is “set to dominate coffee shop menus in the coming months.”

Have an alternative night.


Angela Jimenez compiled photos for this briefing.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.

What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at briefing@nytimes.com.

Here are today’s Mini Crossword, Spelling Bee and Wordle. If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.

Alaska worries for its salmon run as climate change warms Arctic waters – Reuters

https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/alaska-worries-its-salmon-run-climate-change-warms-arctic-waters-2022-02-25/

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Feb 25 (Reuters) – With marine heat waves helping to wipe out some of Alaska’s storied salmon runs in recent years, officials have resorted to sending emergency food shipments to affected communities while scientists warn that the industry’s days of traditional harvests may be numbered.

Salmon all but disappeared from the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) Yukon River run last year, as record-high temperatures led to the fish piling up dead in streams and rivers before they were able to spawn. A study published Feb. 15 in the journal Fisheries detailed more than 100 salmon die-offs at freshwater sites around Alaska.

Those losses meant that, even as temperatures were milder in 2021, the Yukon River salmon runs remained so anemic that both Alaska and Canada were forced to halt their salmon harvest to ensure enough fish survived to reproduce for another year.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

“Alaska is known for salmon and being cold,” said Vanessa von Biela, a U.S. Geological Survey research biologist and lead author of the study on the 2019 die-offs. Now “we have basically the problems that have been known for a long time at the lower latitudes.”

The collapsed Yukon River salmon harvests delivered financial blows to both commercial fishers and indigenous communities, which traditionally stockpile the fish as a year-round food staple.

Commercially, the river’s salmon fishers altogether earned a mere $51,480 for their 2020 harvest, before the harvest was canceled in 2021. By comparison, they earned $2.5 million in 2019 and $4.67 million in 2018.

Last month, the U.S. commerce secretary declared a disaster for the Yukon River fishery for both years, making federal relief funds available.

The state sent emergency fish shipments last year from the more plentiful salmon in Bristol Bay and elsewhere.

Scientists mostly have blamed ocean warming, with a series of heat waves in the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean from 2014 to 2019 affecting salmon living in the sea before their return to spawning grounds.

While the heat waves have passed, their effects have not, said fisheries scientist Katie Howard with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “We’re still seeing the residual effects,” she told a state legislative committee in Anchorage earlier this month.

Climate change may also be affecting salmon diets, with young salmon possibly filling up on nutrition-poor food like jellyfish as warmer waters in the Bering Sea drive away the more nutritious zooplankton the fish eat normally.

“In my opinion, the salmon are starving with climate change,” said Brooke Woods, the chair of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission from the Athabascan village of Rampart.

But the impact on freshwater habitats is also getting a closer look.

Previous research led by von Biela on the rivers, streams and lakes where salmon spend their early and late life stages, the team found that Chinook salmon show heat stress at temperatures above 18 Celsius (64.4 Fahrenheit), and start dying above 20C.

Alaskan Yukon water temperatures in the past ranged between 12C and 16C, with Canadian monitoring sites upriver measuring even cooler waters. But in 2019, temperatures on the Alaskan side were above 18C for 44 consecutive days, the February study found.

The warming impact can be muted by climate-driven glacier runoff, which feeds cooler water into rivers and streams.

Scientists expect salmon will gradually shift to new areas within Alaska, with profound effects for people who depend on the fish for their livelihoods, diet and culture.

“Salmon will find a way,” von Biela said. “But it is going to be hard for communities that are in places where there might not be salmon anymore.”

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Yereth Rosen; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

FDA approves Eli Lilly drug to cut death, hospitalization risk in all heart patients – Reuters

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/fda-approves-eli-lillys-diabetes-drug-expanded-use-cardiac-patients-2022-02-24/

An Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical manufacturing plant is pictured at 50 ImClone Drive in Branchburg, New Jersey, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Feb 24 (Reuters) – The U.S. health regulator said on Thursday it had approved Eli Lilly (LLY.N) and partner Boehringer Ingelheim’s drug, Jardiance, for expanded use in reducing the risk of death and hospitalization for all patients with heart failure.

Originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2014 for type 2 diabetes patients, the drug’s use was expanded last year in some adults living with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, which happens when the muscle of the left ventricle is not pumping as well as normal.

“While Jardiance may not be effective in all patients with heart failure, this approval is a significant step forward for patients and our understanding of heart failure,” said Norman Stockbridge, director of the FDA’s Division of Cardiology and Nephrology.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The expansion on Thursday now increases its market size to cover a very large patient population of about 6.2 million people, as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Jardiance also faces competition from AstraZeneca Plc’s(AZN.L)drug Farxiga, which has approval for patients with symptomatic heart failure.

Eli Lilly recorded nearly $1.5 billion in revenue for Jardiance in 2021, while Farxiga garnered twice that amount for AstraZeneca.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Could you pledge not to fly on a plane for a whole year?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-60400458

He adds: “Yes, aviation is around 2.3%, and we obviously want to get that to net zero by 2050. The reason that it’s net zero, rather than zero, is that while we might have hydrogen and electric planes flying short-haul routes in some small areas, it’s not going to replace all [jet fuel powered] flying by 2050, especially on long-haul routes.”

Clean, Processed, and Other Meaningless Nutrition Buzzwords You Should Ignore

https://lifehacker.com/clean-processed-and-other-meaningless-nutrition-buzzw-1848564480

Image for article titled 'Clean,' 'Processed,' and Other Meaningless Nutrition Buzzwords You Should Ignore

Photo: Iryna Pohrebna (Shutterstock)

Everyone wants to eat healthy, but “healthy” doesn’t have a specific meaning. Neither do lots of other food-related buzzwords that are used on packaging or by influencers. These words and phrases are meant to make you feel good (or bad) about your choices, while giving you little to no useful information.

“Clean”

“Clean” tops the list. It just means “things I want to believe are good,” and it does this by drawing an us-versus-them line. These foods are clean, implying that those foods are…dirty? Unless we’re talking about an omelet that got dropped on the floor, this is an absolutely meaningless distinction.

“Inflammatory” or “anti-inflammatory”

Inflammation is an intricately coordinated process that our body uses to fight disease, repair damaged tissues, and more. It’s not always a bad thing. But since inflammation is involved in cardiovascular disease, there’s a hypothesis that preventing inflammation in general may reduce your risk of certain health conditions.

It’s an interesting hypothesis, and even has some support behind it, but there is little evidence linking specific diets to inflammation, and in turn to health outcomes. A lot of our ideas about what constitutes an “inflammatory” food are based on lab studies or on population-level research that we can’t really narrow down the effects of individual foods.

“Real sugar”

Cane sugar is trendy now it’s not high-fructose corn syrup, but there is very little difference, nutritionally, between cane sugar (or beet sugar) and the oft-demonized HFCS. Both are roughly half glucose and half fructose; HFCS is only “high fructose” in the sense that it’s higher in fructose than regular corn syrup, which is mostly glucose.

And if you’re going to come at me with the fact that HFCS can be 55% fructose instead of 50% fructose, I’m going to ask how much sugar you’re eating that you think a subtle shift in the makeup of five percent of your sugar intake is going to make any kind of real-world difference.

“Multigrain” and “grams of whole grain”

Nothing wrong with multigrain bread (I love it), or stuff that is labeled as seven-grain or nine-grain or whatever. But multigrain doesn’t mean whole grain. If you’re trying to get more fiber and more whole grains into your diet, you want to look for foods that are entirely whole grains—not the refined flours of several different grains mixed together.

These labels are betting on you seeing the word “grain” without really thinking about what it means. Same deal with labels that say they contain so many “grams of whole grain.” We should all be getting around 30 grams of fiber each day, and whole grains are a good source of that, but 30 grams of whole wheat flour (for example) only contains about 3 grams of fiber.

“Net carbs”

“Net carbs” is a roundabout way of saying that some of the carbs in a food don’t count. The idea comes from a good place, I think: an apple with 10 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber shouldn’t be considered equivalent to a handful of Skittles that contains sugar and almost nothing else.

But you don’t need a calculator to tell you the apple brings more to the table, nutritionally speaking, than the candy. Reducing foods to their macros is unnecessarily narrow-minded, and has resulted in companies like Atkins creating and marketing shakes and bars that are low in net carbs, when you could simply eat whatever normal food meets your total calorie needs.

“Gut health”

It’s true the microbes living in our intestines are essential to our health, and that we sometimes suffer ill effects when their little ecosystem down there gets disrupted.

But this is an area of active research, and scientists still haven’t been able to nail down the details of what makes one person’s gut “healthy” and another’s “unhealthy.” And we definitely don’t know enough to say that you just need to eat this or that and your gut microbes will be happy.

“Processed”

Like “clean,” this is a term thrown around mostly to demonize cheaper or more widely-available foods, and to make what is on the speaker’s plate look more virtuous by comparison.

Even the most scientific attempts to define what exactly qualifies as a “processed” food tend to run into philosophical as well as nutritional problems. The NOVA classification considers hard liquor to be more processed than wine, but does that really make wine better for you? It also considers canned vegetables to be processed and frozen vegetables not, among other dubious distinctions.

“Volume”

The idea of high-volume eating is that some foods are more filling than others. So eat a salad or a soup, volumetrics proponents will suggest, because lettuce and broth will both make you feel full without delivering many calories.

This may be true, but they also aren’t delivering much in the way of proteins, vitamins, or the other nutrients our bodies need. And while you may be able to fool your stomach for a few minutes, your body is too smart to be tricked in the long term. An hour after that plain salad, you’ll be hungry again—and this time maybe you should give yourself some protein, fat, and higher density carbs.

Formidable Russian coach and doctor with doping past in focus over Valieva case – Reuters

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/formidable-russian-coach-doctor-with-doping-past-focus-over-valieva-case-2022-02-14/

BEIJING/MOSCOW/NEW YORK, Feb 15 (Reuters) – The turmoil engulfing a 15-year-old Russian figure skater who tested positive for a banned substance has thrust her eminent coach and a doctor with past doping offences into the spotlight at the Beijing Games.

Teen skater Kamila Valieva was cleared on Monday to compete in her remaining event. But the drug charge against her is unresolved and anti-doping authorities in Russia are unlikely to hear her case until well after the Winter Games end. read more

As Valieva prepares to retake the ice on Tuesday, the role of her doctor and coach, along with other adults in the prodigy’s sporting career, has prompted outrage over how a minor could have taken the banned heart drug trimetazidine.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Valieva’s case has shone a light on the conditions endured by the Russian teenagers who now dominate figure skating.

“These (past few) days have been very difficult for me,” she told Russia’s Channel One after training.

“It’s as if I don’t have any emotions left. I am happy but at the same time I am emotionally tired.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it would launch an independent investigation into the adults surrounding Valieva. WADA said the Russian Anti-Doping Agency was already investigating. L8N2UO01M

U.S. anti-doping officials said the Russians who have directed Valieva could also be prosecuted under the American Rodchenkov Act. The new laws empower U.S. prosecutors to seek fines of up to $1 million and jail terms of up to 10 years, even for non-Americans, if their actions have affected the results of U.S. athletes. read more

Valieva’s coach Eteri Tutberidze, who is known in skating circles for harsh training methods, faces heightened scrutiny at the Beijing Games. She is the most highly sought-after figure skating coach in Russia.

Filipp Shvetsky can be seen rinkside during Russian figure skaters’ competitions and practices. The towering, dark-haired physician works at a war veterans’ hospital in Moscow in addition to treating members of Russia’s figure skating team.

Shvetsky and several Russian rowers were suspended from the sport between 2007 and 2010 for anti-doping violations, said Jim Walden, an attorney for Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory who turned whistleblower.

Rowing’s international governing body said at the time that the violations were related to prohibited intravenous infusions.

After his suspension was lifted, he joined the national figure skating team. The blame, Shvetsky said in a 2016 interview, was put on him in the hope of reducing the athletes’ suspensions.

Walden said the doctor’s prior offences and the accusations made about the punishing environment Tutberidze creates for skaters made them prime targets for U.S. investigators.

“They have someone who has a disciplinary history with performance-enhancing drugs already, and you have an incredibly controversial coach,” he said.

“The FBI and Department of Justice, I think, are going to be looking very hard at the doctor and the coach to see if they can piece together the evidence.”

Tutberidze and Shvetsky have not been charged with any wrongdoing and Reuters has no evidence of their possible role in Valieva’s positive doping test.

Tutberidze and Shvetsky did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on Reuters inquiries about whether there was an active investigation.

LANDING QUADS

Tutberidze is a formidable presence. The willowy 47-year-old in sombre trench coats is a striking presence rinkside and in the kiss-and-cry area where figure skaters receive their scores.

Tutberidze, who told state television on Saturday she was certain Valieva was “clean and innocent”, has Russian parents going to great lengths to have her train their children.

Russian Olympian Yulia Lipnitskaya was 10 years old when she and her mother drove the 1,800 km (1,120 miles) between Yekaterinburg and Moscow to see Tutberidze. Lipnitskaya and her mother had agreed that if Tutberidze refused to train her, she would quit the sport, Russia’s Channel One reported.

Reuters was unable to reach Lipnitskaya or her mother for comment.

Her skaters are among the only ones in women’s competition who can execute quadruple jumps.

Younger skaters may have an advantage with the quad because their narrow hips and shoulders could help them to rotate faster in the air, Ithaca College biomechanics expert Deborah King said.

Some of Tutberidze’s skaters have medalled at the Games but retired within the next Olympic cycle. Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva, gold and silver medallists at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, have since left the sport. Lipnitskaya, a team gold medallist in Sochi at the age of 15, retired in 2017.

Igor Lyutikov, who coached Valieva as an eight-year-old and briefly worked with Tutberidze, praised the coach in an interview with Reuters in Moscow.

He said her strict training methods, which kept athletes and coaching staff on their toes, had revolutionised the sport.

Lyutikov pointed out that athletes could choose whether to be subjected to her training methods. He recalled that when Tutberidze “came out every day as if on cue, nobody relaxed.”

“No one is forcing you,” he said. “But if you want to jump, you need to work, you need to grind away.”

CHAMPION SACRIFICES

Liptniskaya, who skated to Schindler’s List in a dazzling red coat at the Sochi Olympics, helping Russia to gold in the team event, announced her retirement in 2017 at the age of 19, citing a long struggle with anorexia.

Tutberidze said in a 2014 interview that Lipnitskaya’s diet consisted of powdered nutrients when she needed to lose weight.

Tutberidze said in a rare interview with Russia’s Channel One in December that she kicked out Alina Zagitova from her training group because “she had begun to get lazy”.

Zagitova, who at 15 became Olympic champion in South Korea, could return on one condition, Tutberidze said.

“The condition was that her mother would not live in Moscow and practically not visit until an Olympic medal,” she said in the interview. Zagitova did not reply to a request for comment.

The coach previously has admitted her harshness in the pursuit of gold.

“Strictness and harshness are present at training sessions because sometimes I’m incredibly frustrated when an athlete is at training but can do much better,” she said in the interview.

“If I didn’t do that, the athlete wouldn’t have the medals and the joy of stepping on the podium.”

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Beijing, Luc Cohen in New York and Polina Nikolskaya in Moscow; Additional reporting by Steve Keating, Chang-Ran Kim and Iain Axon; Editing by Leela de Kretser

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Made in Plymouth & Sandwich – Labuschagnes debt to English club cricket

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/59945356

Marnus Labuschagne playing for Sandwich Town in 2014
Labuschagne played for Sandwich Town in 2014

There is a bench somewhere in Kent that has played a part in Australian Marnus Labuschagne’s rise to Ashes winner and ranking as the number one Test batter in the world.external-link

It was on this particular bench in 2014 that the 19-year-old Labuschagne would sit on a Saturday morning, visualising the innings he would play for Sandwich Town in the coming afternoon.

He was so focused on his mental preparation that he would not notice house-mate and team-mate Matt van Poppel walk past on his way to the Sandwich ground.

“I’d go for an hour’s walk, sit on a bench and visualise my innings ball by ball – literally until I got a hundred,” Labuschagne tells BBC Sport. “The first game for Sandwich, I got 127 in 24 overs. We played 55-over games. There was still more than half the overs left, and I got out.

“I thought if ‘I want to get a double hundred, I need to visualise it’. The next week I visualised the hundred, then getting to 200. I got 203 not out.”

Labuschagne’s time at Sandwich, a year after he spent a summer in Devon with Plymouth Cricket Club, included playing alongside Ashes-winning, Australia-raised England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones at the club that also produced England batter Tammy Beaumont.

His 1,049 runs set a new Kent Premier League record for a batter in a single season, going past the previous best of 1,012 set by the man who is now his coach for Australia, Justin Langer, during his spell with Dover in 1992. Labuschagne’s mark still stands.

Apart from giving him bragging rights over Langer (if he is actually brave enough to rib his coach), it taught Labuschagne a skill that would take him all the way to world number one.

“It was in that period I learned how strong the mind can be,” he says. “I’d visualise the batting, the bowlers and different plans. It’s something I will do now, but more subconsciously.

“I can do it talking to you now. Thinking about batting, how I want to play, changes I want to make and things like that.

“I’m on the rarer side when it comes to my cricket thinking. I’m used to being different.”

These days, Labuschagne’s “rarer side” includes congratulating himself when he successfully ducks under a Ben Stokes bouncer and leaving the ball with a style so flamboyant it could enter RuPaul’s Drag Race.

When he played for Plymouth in 2013, those idiosyncrasies had yet to fully form.

A stint in the south-west of England came after successfully persuading his father Andre that time in England was right for his cricketing education, then bombarding agent Rob Humphries with phone calls in order to find a club.

Sandwich Town
Labuschagne (front right) played in the same Sandwich team as Geraint Jones (back right)

“I phrased it to my dad as being like study,” says Labuschagne. “Going to England was my university. I wanted to play cricket. You don’t see a doctor kicking around an AFL ball to get his degree.”

Living in Plympton, he got around on a bike. His deal with Plymouth required him to coach, work behind the bar and help maintain the ground. Labuschagne made hundreds in his first two innings in England, but did not reach three figures again that summer.

“Jeez, it was cold,” he says. “My first few games, I batted in a long jumper, something I’d never done before.

“I learned a very valuable lesson from that trip. I said I wanted to get two hundreds for the year and be really consistent. I got 126 not out and 130 not out, and I didn’t get another hundred.

“I learned about setting goals. I don’t like to limit myself or anything like that because I realised on that trip I set a goal, achieved it, then all of a sudden I subconsciously took my foot off the pedal.”

Next summer, after a move to Kent, Labuschagne was not only improving his batting, but also his lifestyle.

Living with Van Poppel and fellow Sandwich player Dan Evans, Labuschagne recognised the need to change his diet. He cut out sugar and bread, instead eating sweet potato with virtually every meal, leaving his house-mates frustrated at the state of the kitchen.

“They always blow that up,” says Labuschagne. “They reckon I left the kitchen messy, but I’m not so sure.”

When Labuschagne was not cooking, he was shadow batting. As well as Van Poppel and Evans, he became firm friends with another Sandwich player, Rory Smith.

Smith has since had two stints living with Labuschagne in Queensland, while all of Smith, Van Poppel and Evans dashed to Dubai when he made his Test debut against Pakistan in 2018. They were in the Australia team huddle on the outfield as he was presented with his baggy green cap.

Marnus Labuschagne
Labuschagne scored more than 2,000 runs in all cricket for Sandwich Town in 2014

Despite becoming a Test cricketer, Labuschagne’s education in the UK was not over.

He had dabbled with county cricket during his time with Sandwich, featuring in some second XI games for Kent, only to abandon the endeavour when it became clear there was no chance of qualifying as a local player.

When Labuschagne returned as Glamorgan’s overseas player in 2019, more than 1,100 runs in 10 Championship matches propelled him into Australia’s Ashes squad, where he famously became Test cricket’s first concussion substitute after Steve Smith was struck by a rapid Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s.

From the first ball he faced, Labuschagne himself was floored by a horrible blow to the grille from Archer, only to pick himself up with a smile and a thumbs up. Since that moment, no-one with more than 1,000 runs can better Labuschagne’s average of 67.62. His overall career average of 58.67 is eighth on the all-time list.

“Glamorgan certainly took a punt on me,” he says. “My statistics weren’t something to wow over. They knew my character and work ethic and that is something they were looking for.”

Still, Labuschagne does not look on his responsibility with Glamorgan, to whom he returned in 2021 and will again this year, as any greater than the time he spent at Plymouth and Sandwich Town.

“When I was playing for Sandwich and Plymouth it was probably harder because I didn’t have experience,” he says.

“It’s your job to win games. They give you the ball when they need wickets; you need to score hundreds. It’s your job. Now it’s just a different level.”

If it is England that helped put Labuschagne on the way to becoming the best batter in the world, it is England that he has helped vanquish en route to getting his hands on the Ashes urn after the upcoming fifth Test in Hobart.

His scores of 74, 103 and 51 not out set up victories in the vital opening two Tests, with Australia now on course for another thumping win in a home Ashes series.

“The UK has helped me tremendously,” says Labuschagne. “Just the sheer amount of games. I was playing three times a week in club cricket. Learning the craft.

“I’ve got a lot to be thankful for from English cricket.”

English cricket might not be so thankful in return.

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue

Made in Plymouth & Sandwich – Labuschagnes debt to English club cricket

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/59945356

Marnus Labuschagne playing for Sandwich Town in 2014
Labuschagne played for Sandwich Town in 2014

There is a bench somewhere in Kent that has played a part in Australian Marnus Labuschagne’s rise to Ashes winner and ranking as the number one Test batter in the world.external-link

It was on this particular bench in 2014 that the 19-year-old Labuschagne would sit on a Saturday morning, visualising the innings he would play for Sandwich Town in the coming afternoon.

He was so focused on his mental preparation that he would not notice house-mate and team-mate Matt van Poppel walk past on his way to the Sandwich ground.

“I’d go for an hour’s walk, sit on a bench and visualise my innings ball by ball – literally until I got a hundred,” Labuschagne tells BBC Sport. “The first game for Sandwich, I got 127 in 24 overs. We played 55-over games. There was still more than half the overs left, and I got out.

“I thought if ‘I want to get a double hundred, I need to visualise it’. The next week I visualised the hundred, then getting to 200. I got 203 not out.”

Labuschagne’s time at Sandwich, a year after he spent a summer in Devon with Plymouth Cricket Club, included playing alongside Ashes-winning, Australia-raised England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones at the club that also produced England batter Tammy Beaumont.

His 1,049 runs set a new Kent Premier League record for a batter in a single season, going past the previous best of 1,012 set by the man who is now his coach for Australia, Justin Langer, during his spell with Dover in 1992. Labuschagne’s mark still stands.

Apart from giving him bragging rights over Langer (if he is actually brave enough to rib his coach), it taught Labuschagne a skill that would take him all the way to world number one.

“It was in that period I learned how strong the mind can be,” he says. “I’d visualise the batting, the bowlers and different plans. It’s something I will do now, but more subconsciously.

“I can do it talking to you now. Thinking about batting, how I want to play, changes I want to make and things like that.

“I’m on the rarer side when it comes to my cricket thinking. I’m used to being different.”

These days, Labuschagne’s “rarer side” includes congratulating himself when he successfully ducks under a Ben Stokes bouncer and leaving the ball with a style so flamboyant it could enter RuPaul’s Drag Race.

When he played for Plymouth in 2013, those idiosyncrasies had yet to fully form.

A stint in the south-west of England came after successfully persuading his father Andre that time in England was right for his cricketing education, then bombarding agent Rob Humphries with phone calls in order to find a club.

Sandwich Town
Labuschagne (front right) played in the same Sandwich team as Geraint Jones (back right)

“I phrased it to my dad as being like study,” says Labuschagne. “Going to England was my university. I wanted to play cricket. You don’t see a doctor kicking around an AFL ball to get his degree.”

Living in Plympton, he got around on a bike. His deal with Plymouth required him to coach, work behind the bar and help maintain the ground. Labuschagne made hundreds in his first two innings in England, but did not reach three figures again that summer.

“Jeez, it was cold,” he says. “My first few games, I batted in a long jumper, something I’d never done before.

“I learned a very valuable lesson from that trip. I said I wanted to get two hundreds for the year and be really consistent. I got 126 not out and 130 not out, and I didn’t get another hundred.

“I learned about setting goals. I don’t like to limit myself or anything like that because I realised on that trip I set a goal, achieved it, then all of a sudden I subconsciously took my foot off the pedal.”

Next summer, after a move to Kent, Labuschagne was not only improving his batting, but also his lifestyle.

Living with Van Poppel and fellow Sandwich player Dan Evans, Labuschagne recognised the need to change his diet. He cut out sugar and bread, instead eating sweet potato with virtually every meal, leaving his house-mates frustrated at the state of the kitchen.

“They always blow that up,” says Labuschagne. “They reckon I left the kitchen messy, but I’m not so sure.”

When Labuschagne was not cooking, he was shadow batting. As well as Van Poppel and Evans, he became firm friends with another Sandwich player, Rory Smith.

Smith has since had two stints living with Labuschagne in Queensland, while all of Smith, Van Poppel and Evans dashed to Dubai when he made his Test debut against Pakistan in 2018. They were in the Australia team huddle on the outfield as he was presented with his baggy green cap.

Marnus Labuschagne
Labuschagne scored more than 2,000 runs in all cricket for Sandwich Town in 2014

Despite becoming a Test cricketer, Labuschagne’s education in the UK was not over.

He had dabbled with county cricket during his time with Sandwich, featuring in some second XI games for Kent, only to abandon the endeavour when it became clear there was no chance of qualifying as a local player.

When Labuschagne returned as Glamorgan’s overseas player in 2019, more than 1,100 runs in 10 Championship matches propelled him into Australia’s Ashes squad, where he famously became Test cricket’s first concussion substitute after Steve Smith was struck by a rapid Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s.

From the first ball he faced, Labuschagne himself was floored by a horrible blow to the grille from Archer, only to pick himself up with a smile and a thumbs up. Since that moment, no-one with more than 1,000 runs can better Labuschagne’s average of 67.62. His overall career average of 58.67 is eighth on the all-time list.

“Glamorgan certainly took a punt on me,” he says. “My statistics weren’t something to wow over. They knew my character and work ethic and that is something they were looking for.”

Still, Labuschagne does not look on his responsibility with Glamorgan, to whom he returned in 2021 and will again this year, as any greater than the time he spent at Plymouth and Sandwich Town.

“When I was playing for Sandwich and Plymouth it was probably harder because I didn’t have experience,” he says.

“It’s your job to win games. They give you the ball when they need wickets; you need to score hundreds. It’s your job. Now it’s just a different level.”

If it is England that helped put Labuschagne on the way to becoming the best batter in the world, it is England that he has helped vanquish en route to getting his hands on the Ashes urn after the upcoming fifth Test in Hobart.

His scores of 74, 103 and 51 not out set up victories in the vital opening two Tests, with Australia now on course for another thumping win in a home Ashes series.

“The UK has helped me tremendously,” says Labuschagne. “Just the sheer amount of games. I was playing three times a week in club cricket. Learning the craft.

“I’ve got a lot to be thankful for from English cricket.”

English cricket might not be so thankful in return.

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue

Made in Plymouth & Sandwich – Labuschagnes debt to English club cricket

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/59945356

Marnus Labuschagne playing for Sandwich Town in 2014
Labuschagne played for Sandwich Town in 2014

There is a bench somewhere in Kent that has played a part in Australian Marnus Labuschagne’s rise to Ashes winner and ranking as the number one Test batter in the world.external-link

It was on this particular bench in 2014 that the 19-year-old Labuschagne would sit on a Saturday morning, visualising the innings he would play for Sandwich Town in the coming afternoon.

He was so focused on his mental preparation that he would not notice house-mate and team-mate Matt van Poppel walk past on his way to the Sandwich ground.

“I’d go for an hour’s walk, sit on a bench and visualise my innings ball by ball – literally until I got a hundred,” Labuschagne tells BBC Sport. “The first game for Sandwich, I got 127 in 24 overs. We played 55-over games. There was still more than half the overs left, and I got out.

“I thought if ‘I want to get a double hundred, I need to visualise it’. The next week I visualised the hundred, then getting to 200. I got 203 not out.”

Labuschagne’s time at Sandwich, a year after he spent a summer in Devon with Plymouth Cricket Club, included playing alongside Ashes-winning, Australia-raised England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones at the club that also produced England batter Tammy Beaumont.

His 1,049 runs set a new Kent Premier League record for a batter in a single season, going past the previous best of 1,012 set by the man who is now his coach for Australia, Justin Langer, during his spell with Dover in 1992. Labuschagne’s mark still stands.

Apart from giving him bragging rights over Langer (if he is actually brave enough to rib his coach), it taught Labuschagne a skill that would take him all the way to world number one.

“It was in that period I learned how strong the mind can be,” he says. “I’d visualise the batting, the bowlers and different plans. It’s something I will do now, but more subconsciously.

“I can do it talking to you now. Thinking about batting, how I want to play, changes I want to make and things like that.

“I’m on the rarer side when it comes to my cricket thinking. I’m used to being different.”

These days, Labuschagne’s “rarer side” includes congratulating himself when he successfully ducks under a Ben Stokes bouncer and leaving the ball with a style so flamboyant it could enter RuPaul’s Drag Race.

When he played for Plymouth in 2013, those idiosyncrasies had yet to fully form.

A stint in the south-west of England came after successfully persuading his father Andre that time in England was right for his cricketing education, then bombarding agent Rob Humphries with phone calls in order to find a club.

Sandwich Town
Labuschagne (front right) played in the same Sandwich team as Geraint Jones (back right)

“I phrased it to my dad as being like study,” says Labuschagne. “Going to England was my university. I wanted to play cricket. You don’t see a doctor kicking around an AFL ball to get his degree.”

Living in Plympton, he got around on a bike. His deal with Plymouth required him to coach, work behind the bar and help maintain the ground. Labuschagne made hundreds in his first two innings in England, but did not reach three figures again that summer.

“Jeez, it was cold,” he says. “My first few games, I batted in a long jumper, something I’d never done before.

“I learned a very valuable lesson from that trip. I said I wanted to get two hundreds for the year and be really consistent. I got 126 not out and 130 not out, and I didn’t get another hundred.

“I learned about setting goals. I don’t like to limit myself or anything like that because I realised on that trip I set a goal, achieved it, then all of a sudden I subconsciously took my foot off the pedal.”

Next summer, after a move to Kent, Labuschagne was not only improving his batting, but also his lifestyle.

Living with Van Poppel and fellow Sandwich player Dan Evans, Labuschagne recognised the need to change his diet. He cut out sugar and bread, instead eating sweet potato with virtually every meal, leaving his house-mates frustrated at the state of the kitchen.

“They always blow that up,” says Labuschagne. “They reckon I left the kitchen messy, but I’m not so sure.”

When Labuschagne was not cooking, he was shadow batting. As well as Van Poppel and Evans, he became firm friends with another Sandwich player, Rory Smith.

Smith has since had two stints living with Labuschagne in Queensland, while all of Smith, Van Poppel and Evans dashed to Dubai when he made his Test debut against Pakistan in 2018. They were in the Australia team huddle on the outfield as he was presented with his baggy green cap.

Marnus Labuschagne
Labuschagne scored more than 2,000 runs in all cricket for Sandwich Town in 2014

Despite becoming a Test cricketer, Labuschagne’s education in the UK was not over.

He had dabbled with county cricket during his time with Sandwich, featuring in some second XI games for Kent, only to abandon the endeavour when it became clear there was no chance of qualifying as a local player.

When Labuschagne returned as Glamorgan’s overseas player in 2019, more than 1,100 runs in 10 Championship matches propelled him into Australia’s Ashes squad, where he famously became Test cricket’s first concussion substitute after Steve Smith was struck by a rapid Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s.

From the first ball he faced, Labuschagne himself was floored by a horrible blow to the grille from Archer, only to pick himself up with a smile and a thumbs up. Since that moment, no-one with more than 1,000 runs can better Labuschagne’s average of 67.62. His overall career average of 58.67 is eighth on the all-time list.

“Glamorgan certainly took a punt on me,” he says. “My statistics weren’t something to wow over. They knew my character and work ethic and that is something they were looking for.”

Still, Labuschagne does not look on his responsibility with Glamorgan, to whom he returned in 2021 and will again this year, as any greater than the time he spent at Plymouth and Sandwich Town.

“When I was playing for Sandwich and Plymouth it was probably harder because I didn’t have experience,” he says.

“It’s your job to win games. They give you the ball when they need wickets; you need to score hundreds. It’s your job. Now it’s just a different level.”

If it is England that helped put Labuschagne on the way to becoming the best batter in the world, it is England that he has helped vanquish en route to getting his hands on the Ashes urn after the upcoming fifth Test in Hobart.

His scores of 74, 103 and 51 not out set up victories in the vital opening two Tests, with Australia now on course for another thumping win in a home Ashes series.

“The UK has helped me tremendously,” says Labuschagne. “Just the sheer amount of games. I was playing three times a week in club cricket. Learning the craft.

“I’ve got a lot to be thankful for from English cricket.”

English cricket might not be so thankful in return.

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue

Made in Plymouth & Sandwich – Labuschagnes debt to English club cricket

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/59945356

Marnus Labuschagne playing for Sandwich Town in 2014
Labuschagne played for Sandwich Town in 2014

There is a bench somewhere in Kent that has played a part in Australian Marnus Labuschagne’s rise to Ashes winner and ranking as the number one Test batter in the world.external-link

It was on this particular bench in 2014 that the 19-year-old Labuschagne would sit on a Saturday morning, visualising the innings he would play for Sandwich Town in the coming afternoon.

He was so focused on his mental preparation that he would not notice house-mate and team-mate Matt van Poppel walk past on his way to the Sandwich ground.

“I’d go for an hour’s walk, sit on a bench and visualise my innings ball by ball – literally until I got a hundred,” Labuschagne tells BBC Sport. “The first game for Sandwich, I got 127 in 24 overs. We played 55-over games. There was still more than half the overs left, and I got out.

“I thought if ‘I want to get a double hundred, I need to visualise it’. The next week I visualised the hundred, then getting to 200. I got 203 not out.”

Labuschagne’s time at Sandwich, a year after he spent a summer in Devon with Plymouth Cricket Club, included playing alongside Ashes-winning, Australia-raised England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones at the club that also produced England batter Tammy Beaumont.

His 1,049 runs set a new Kent Premier League record for a batter in a single season, going past the previous best of 1,012 set by the man who is now his coach for Australia, Justin Langer, during his spell with Dover in 1992. Labuschagne’s mark still stands.

Apart from giving him bragging rights over Langer (if he is actually brave enough to rib his coach), it taught Labuschagne a skill that would take him all the way to world number one.

“It was in that period I learned how strong the mind can be,” he says. “I’d visualise the batting, the bowlers and different plans. It’s something I will do now, but more subconsciously.

“I can do it talking to you now. Thinking about batting, how I want to play, changes I want to make and things like that.

“I’m on the rarer side when it comes to my cricket thinking. I’m used to being different.”

These days, Labuschagne’s “rarer side” includes congratulating himself when he successfully ducks under a Ben Stokes bouncer and leaving the ball with a style so flamboyant it could enter RuPaul’s Drag Race.

When he played for Plymouth in 2013, those idiosyncrasies had yet to fully form.

A stint in the south-west of England came after successfully persuading his father Andre that time in England was right for his cricketing education, then bombarding agent Rob Humphries with phone calls in order to find a club.

Sandwich Town
Labuschagne (front right) played in the same Sandwich team as Geraint Jones (back right)

“I phrased it to my dad as being like study,” says Labuschagne. “Going to England was my university. I wanted to play cricket. You don’t see a doctor kicking around an AFL ball to get his degree.”

Living in Plympton, he got around on a bike. His deal with Plymouth required him to coach, work behind the bar and help maintain the ground. Labuschagne made hundreds in his first two innings in England, but did not reach three figures again that summer.

“Jeez, it was cold,” he says. “My first few games, I batted in a long jumper, something I’d never done before.

“I learned a very valuable lesson from that trip. I said I wanted to get two hundreds for the year and be really consistent. I got 126 not out and 130 not out, and I didn’t get another hundred.

“I learned about setting goals. I don’t like to limit myself or anything like that because I realised on that trip I set a goal, achieved it, then all of a sudden I subconsciously took my foot off the pedal.”

Next summer, after a move to Kent, Labuschagne was not only improving his batting, but also his lifestyle.

Living with Van Poppel and fellow Sandwich player Dan Evans, Labuschagne recognised the need to change his diet. He cut out sugar and bread, instead eating sweet potato with virtually every meal, leaving his house-mates frustrated at the state of the kitchen.

“They always blow that up,” says Labuschagne. “They reckon I left the kitchen messy, but I’m not so sure.”

When Labuschagne was not cooking, he was shadow batting. As well as Van Poppel and Evans, he became firm friends with another Sandwich player, Rory Smith.

Smith has since had two stints living with Labuschagne in Queensland, while all of Smith, Van Poppel and Evans dashed to Dubai when he made his Test debut against Pakistan in 2018. They were in the Australia team huddle on the outfield as he was presented with his baggy green cap.

Marnus Labuschagne
Labuschagne scored more than 2,000 runs in all cricket for Sandwich Town in 2014

Despite becoming a Test cricketer, Labuschagne’s education in the UK was not over.

He had dabbled with county cricket during his time with Sandwich, featuring in some second XI games for Kent, only to abandon the endeavour when it became clear there was no chance of qualifying as a local player.

When Labuschagne returned as Glamorgan’s overseas player in 2019, more than 1,100 runs in 10 Championship matches propelled him into Australia’s Ashes squad, where he famously became Test cricket’s first concussion substitute after Steve Smith was struck by a rapid Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s.

From the first ball he faced, Labuschagne himself was floored by a horrible blow to the grille from Archer, only to pick himself up with a smile and a thumbs up. Since that moment, no-one with more than 1,000 runs can better Labuschagne’s average of 67.62. His overall career average of 58.67 is eighth on the all-time list.

“Glamorgan certainly took a punt on me,” he says. “My statistics weren’t something to wow over. They knew my character and work ethic and that is something they were looking for.”

Still, Labuschagne does not look on his responsibility with Glamorgan, to whom he returned in 2021 and will again this year, as any greater than the time he spent at Plymouth and Sandwich Town.

“When I was playing for Sandwich and Plymouth it was probably harder because I didn’t have experience,” he says.

“It’s your job to win games. They give you the ball when they need wickets; you need to score hundreds. It’s your job. Now it’s just a different level.”

If it is England that helped put Labuschagne on the way to becoming the best batter in the world, it is England that he has helped vanquish en route to getting his hands on the Ashes urn after the upcoming fifth Test in Hobart.

His scores of 74, 103 and 51 not out set up victories in the vital opening two Tests, with Australia now on course for another thumping win in a home Ashes series.

“The UK has helped me tremendously,” says Labuschagne. “Just the sheer amount of games. I was playing three times a week in club cricket. Learning the craft.

“I’ve got a lot to be thankful for from English cricket.”

English cricket might not be so thankful in return.

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue