Separated since Australia's last Test in January, Marnus Labuschagne says he and Steve Smith have been attached at the hip this week as they prepare for England to "throw the kitchen sink" at them in Brisbane.
Smith's concussion during his prolific 2019 Ashes campaign allowed for Labuschagne's surprise arrival, the pair now Australia's top-order rocks both averaging above 60 ahead of Wednesday's first Test at the Gabba.
"Last time I saw him was last day of the last Test at the Gabba; it's a long time and I personally can't wait to see him back out there," Labuschagne said of the new vice-captain.
"We have been attached at the hip the last few days ... you miss the camaraderie and the banter."
Largely unneeded in Australia's victorious Twenty20 World Cup campaign, Labuschagne predicts Smith to build on his incredible Ashes record.
He has 11 centuries from 27 Tests against England and has scored 1419 runs in his last 12 Ashes innings at an average of 141.9 - a streak not even matched by Sir Donald Bradman.
"I'm sure they're going to try everything ... I know I certainly would if I was playing someone who averages 100 (against you)," Labuschagne said of England's bowlers.
"He can't wait for it to start.
"I can't say what (England) are going to come up with but I'm sure they're going to throw the kitchen sink (at him)."
Labuschagne was swamped by children seeking autographs and pictures on arrival to his home ground at Redlands Cricket Club on Friday.
The electronic billboard flashed a personalised welcome to their star man while hundreds gathering to watch as the skies finally cleared in Brisbane.
Travis Head, not Usman Khawaja, took his place in the centre against some local bowlers, perhaps in a sign he will win the battle to play at the Gabba next week.
None of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood or Pat Cummins attended the session, while Jhye Richardson did but didn't bowl.
Averaging 65 across nine Sheffield Shield innings this season, Labuschagne feels ready for England's best after a breakout 2019 performance.
"The pandemic has made us stop and think a bit, (allowed) some more time to soak it all in," the 27-year-old said.
"I've thought about how amazing of an opportunity I got and was lucky enough to take it."
He said now the challenge was to emulate the likes of Smith and "manage that pressure of continually scoring runs" and was comfortable with being overlooked for an official leadership position in the post-Tim Paine era.
"I'm happy for that (scoring runs) to be my role for now," he said.
"Captaincy and vice-captaincy it's something you search for, it's something that comes to you."
Australian Associated Press