Peter Gilbert is back to review how the plethora of Australians playing county cricket are performing. We could’ve published something about England’s players, too. However, they’re all warming up for the Ashes by playing in the IPL instead. Ed Smith would be proud…
Last week’s County Championship round once again saw several Australians in action in the four-day county game.
Two of these, Marcus Harris and Marnus Labuschagne, will soon be a part of the Australian squad that will do battle once more with England, for the Ashes, later this summer.
Others, such as Michael Neser and Peter Handscomb, will be hoping their performances will earn them a call-up to the squad should replacements be required.
Here, we review the most recent efforts from the Australian cricketers in the County Championship.
Marcus Harris – Gloucestershire
Marcus Harris had a strong start to the County Championship season, scoring 59 and 148 against Glamorgan.
Harris has also been awarded an Australian contract, and a place within the test squad for the Ashes.
Opening the batting for Gloucestershire, after Sussex had put on an impressive 445-5 declared, Harris was set for a good score and had survived early pressure to make his way into the thirties.
However, on 37 from 97 balls, Harris pushed the ball into the leg side and called for a single.
He wouldn’t make it, as sub fielder Tom Clarke threw down the stumps with a direct hit and ran-out the Australian batter.
To make matters worse, Harris’ dismissal triggered a partial collapse in the Gloucestershire line-up, with James Bracey and Graeme van Buuren getting out in successive deliveries.
Harris could only add five in the second innings, out LBW to Sean Hunt, as Gloucestershire followed on and were lucky to steal a draw in a rain-affected fixture.
Overall, it was a difficult round for the man looking to secure a place at the top of the Australian order.
Marnus Labuschagne – Glamorgan
Aside from Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne is arguably the highest profile Australian batter set to take part in this season’s County Championship.
Labuschagne came into the fixture against Leicestershire off the back of two poor scores in his first match of the season, against Durham.
In a high scoring fixture, Leicestershire made 407 in the first innings of the game. Labuschagne contributed 64 from 106 balls as Glamorgan made 465.
The number one batter in the world, coming in at number three for Glamorgan, hit the only six of the away side’s innings shortly before being caught in the slips off the bowling of Ed Barnes.
Labuschagne bowled just seven overs in the entire match, without taking a wicket, meaning his bowling skills were unable to make a difference within a fixture that ultimately petered out into a draw.
Side note: For a very funny last ball of the match, try to find the effort delivered by Eddie Byrom on YouTube.
Other noticeable mentions
Labuschagne was not the only Australian in action at Grace Road. The game also included another Aussie who could perhaps consider himself unlucky not to be a part of the Ashes squad. I’m referring, of course, to Michael Neser.
Neser added a determined 90 from 198 balls, batting at nine for Glamorgan. He also opened the bowling and took three wickets overall.
For the home side, Leicestershire’s Peter Handscomb continued a good run of form to make 95 from 168 balls. He also took two catches keeping wicket.
Handscomb’s a good player of spin and a fine fielder – but he’s looked completely at sea against swing and seam. It’s bizarre that he holds the Aussie record for most consecutive fifties after debut.
More seriously. what’s going on at the ECB? The media has been full of talk of the 16.66 being scrapped (mostly because internationally nobody else is interested in the format – who’da guessed that?). Toxic Tom’s parting gift of the extended Sky contract seems the stumbling block. Are Thompson and Gould really a new broom?
It looks like they want to do away with the horrible 100 and resurrect it in a “new” two division T20 competition involving all counties. Not sure why when we have the Blast. But it seems with the new US T20 on the horizon the 100 is fast being flashed down the toilet, where it belongs. So that’s at least a positive.
Best Aussie players at the moment ? Surreys Worral and Abbot on the bowling front by miles.
I think they are a new broom, yes. I don’t think there would even be chatter about abolishing / reforming The Hundred if Teflon Tom was still around. Personally, I think they’d love to get rid but are hamstrung by the existing TV deal. It’s a dilemma.