D’Costa picked out his most famous drill that he has christened “The Virat Kohli” – where a batsman picks the ball from outside off and whips to the on side.
“Mentally I had to teach Marnus how to get the ball to the leg side. The bowlers had caught up with his reluctance and were tucking him up. He was too wary about being lbw, he would say, “I would miss and get lbw”. The Virat Kohli shot was unleashed on him!” D’Costa laughs.
“First, I had to convince him that if he doesn’t play on the leg side, he won’t score runs as he grades up. The bowlers keep getting better as you move up, and you have to find your way now. Trust me son, work it out now.” Then, the Kohli drill was unleashed. “First, it was fair-batting that whip, getting him to become very comfortable with it. Once it burns into the muscle memory, then the actual play against the balls begins. Now, can anyone say he has a weakness there?!”
An intense session or two ensued in Brisbane but D’Costa left for Sydney. His phone kept ringing off the hook. “It was Marnus and he was ready to come to Sydney to work more.” But D’Costa wasn’t in the mood. “For some reason, then, I wasn’t really too keen to get into coaching at that level of players. So I kept shrugging him off, with one excuse or another.” But the teenager wouldn’t relent. “He basically clung on to me I guess! And so I said okay, but listen if we are going to do this, we have to do it my way. It won’t be easy. Not that it deterred him and he came over soon.”
“I work on the physical, technical, mental, and emotional fronts – the four areas that I am interested in,” D’Costa tells The Indian Express. A full-on overhaul of Labuschagne’s mental and technical game began in earnest. “Physically he was okay but we wanted him to get a bit stronger.”
D’Costa’s life in Australia once his Anglo-Indian parents moved from Chennai is itself quite a tale but we start with the first time he met the current world no. 1 batsman. A friend, Queensland’s coach Blair Copelin, had told him to look out for this lad, Marnus: ‘bit different.”
“And so, I go to the ground during a U-19 game between Queensland and New South Wales. I see a boy appealing for lbw from deep square leg. I called up my friend, is your boy the one who is convinced that the batsman is plumb lbw from the boundary line?!”