In the opening round of County Championship fixtures, there were several Australian players looking to prove their value to the test squad before the first Ashes match in Birmingham.
Some of these Australians will likely be in the first eleven come June, Steve Smith being an example, whilst others will be playing the County Championships hoping to impress selectors.
This article will look at the Australians, especially those who have recently been a part of the test side, who were in action during the opening round of fixtures.
Matthew Kuhnemann – Durham
Kuhnemann is a recent addition to the Australian test team with the left arm spinner joining the squad during their recent tour to India.
He took nine wickets, including a five-fer in the third test in Indore.
It remains to be seen how much of a part he will play in an Ashes summer, considering Australians rarely play two spinners in England and Nathan Lyon is still number one choice.
Kuhnemann started well, however, taking two wickets in 23 overs in Sussex’s first innings. The spinner also took two wickets in four overs during a tense finale; however, he could not hold his nerve at the death.
With Sussex just 23 runs short of the total, Kuhnemann bowled two leg side wides that would cost seven crucial runs.
A mixed fixture for the young Australian spinner.
Cameron Bancroft – Somerset
Bancroft was the choice opening batter at the start of the last English summer Ashes but failed to keep his place after a string of poor scores.
With rumours circling about the position of David Warner, Bancroft will be eager to impress.
Batting at three, Bancroft made a solid start to the season with a steady 44 from 104 balls, in tough conditions and with Somerset already one man down.
The second innings, a nine-ball duck, was less impressive.
Another mixed start for an Australian.
Marcus Harris – Gloucestershire
Harris has recently been rewarded with a new Australia contract and celebrated it with a fantastic century against Glamorgan.
Out of the two Australian openers on display, Bancroft the other, Harris certainly gave the better audition to potentially taking a slot in the test team this summer.
A solid 59 from 129 balls in the first innings, and a fantastic 148 in the second, has kicked off the English season well for the man from Western Australia.
A perfect start to the season.
Peter Handscomb – Leicestershire
Handscomb has been in and out of the Australian test team, most recently contributing well to a wobbling middle order in the India tour.
Playing for Leicestershire, against Yorkshire at the future Ashes ground in Headingley, Handscomb was another Australian batter who auditioned well in the first round of County Championship fixtures.
The middle order batter was a central figure in a Leicestershire side that failed to win throughout 2022 yet succeeded in doing so at the first time of asking in 2023.
With a steady 112 in the first innings, and a match winning 68* in the second, Handscomb proved he could play a vital role in the Australian middle order, this summer, either as a pivot role or as a run scorer.
Another excellent start to the season.
Great article. How many of the first choice England eleven are playing county. A lot of them seem to be playing IPL which doesn’t seem to be the ideal preparation for an Ashes tour in English conditions.
Foakes had a superb match for Surrey (79 first dig, century at better than a run a ball to get Surrey to a declaration in the second and his usual immaculate match with the gloves). But you are right overall that not many of the England test guys were in action.
Foakes can most definitely bat. And I think he’s getting better.
I can’t believe that they are even thinking of dropping him for Bairstow.
Big JB fan but if they drop Foakes it will be a very strange decision
Don’t know why we’re making an issue of this. Many of our youngsters have played in Australian grade cricket over winter to gain experience of different conditions and be available as emergency cover for touring injuries, almost without notice. It’s odd that Australians have rarely taken the opportunity to avail themselves of the county scene or northern leagues here, especially as Laburschane improved as a result of his season with Glamorgan. Indeed he alone of the present team has significant county experience, whereas players from the Caribbean, South Africa, the sub continent and even New Zealand have a county tradition, though it would seem not so much now. Indeed, some of our centrally contracted players struggle to get much county cricket under their belts.
With congested international itineraries not allowing touring sides significant practice matches prior and between tests it makes sense that countries cooperate to redress this balance, allowing time to acclimatise, so test cricket can be more competitive.
Marc. Why do England’s test players not play County cricket?
Maybe it’s because they bugger off to the IPL or other competitions which don’t reflect proper test match conditions to take the quick buck or rupee. Last year, Joe Root could have turned out for Yorkshire at the end of the season but didn’t and they were relegated.
Both Foakes and Pope turned out for Surrey last week and will again from tomorrow.
I agree that more proper warm up matches would be ideal for touring sides but it doesn’t happen any more; not enough money in it?
It wasn’t Root’s decision not to play for his County !
Not sure about that. He had no cricket lined up for two months, and frankly should have told the ECB to get stuffed. Just imagine if it were Freddie Trueman!
Pope, duckett and crawley all played last week are playing again this week. Foakes is being rested as a precaution re his back, broad and ,Jimmy also playing. Robinson will be in action next week as well. Stone and Carse both played as ecb pace bowling contracts are being rested this week.
Does Sam Hain count? He has scored two 100s already…..
I see your poInt, Rob. I went for players that had recently been a part of the Australian test side or had been part of squads in the past. Hain has also been apart of England Lions squads, recently…but you’re right he’s had some start to the season!
Not sure if we are meant to post links or not but this was an interesting article:
I cant see Sam Hain getting in the England test side anytime soon. Might play for Australia in the limited overs if he so wanted he is an excellent 50 over player. Whether the Aussies would have any interest in playing him is another matter entirely.
Dan Worrall bowling well for Surrey this season- Hogan now trundling for Kent having supposedly retired last season! And Siddle still keeping the faith at Somerset…..