We have had four rounds in the County Championship and it produced some top cricket with a few individual performances standing out. Let’s take a look at some of them:
How are the Ashes prospects faring?
Neser and Abbott do their credentials no harm
One of the most astonishing things about the Ashes squad was the omission of fast bowler Michael Neser. He could have been a handy option for Australia given that he has performed exceedingly well in the County Championship. However, Australia selector George Bailey indicated that he could still get a look in as he will be in England during the Ashes, representing Glamorgan.
Across 2021 and 2022, Neser pouched 60 wickets in the competition at 21.19 in 14 games. He picked up 2 for 98 against Leicestershire including a beautiful in-swinger to Wiaan Mulder to knock him over. However, it was with the bat he fared extremely well, scoring a 90 down the order to save the game for his team.
Not to forget, Sean Abbott too could have a crack at getting into the squad, picking up a five-wicket haul and also chipping in with a vital 42 and 52 not out against Lancashire to help Surrey to a draw.
Handscomb shines, agony for Kuhnemann
Peter Handscomb is considered a subcontinent (read India) specialist and despite playing a couple of handy innings on the recent tour, he can consider himself a tad unlucky not to be part of the Ashes squad. However, he continues knocking on the selector’s doors. He already has 112 and 68 against Yorkshire and averages over 100 in Division Two at the moment.
Sticking with Division Two, Matthew Kuhnemann’s season has come to an end. He has to head back home to begin his rehabilitation after suffering a back injury. However, he did do some damage, picking 5 for 53 in the victory over Worcestershire. Kuhnemann, who replaced Todd Murphy for the initial stages of the season, heads home with 12 wickets at 22.58 to his name.
Labuschagne the off-spinner?
Why not, right? Marnus Labuschagne, one of Australia’s key batters, weaved some magic this time with ball in hand. But there was a twist in that too. He added off-spin to his repertoire finishing with a career-best of 4 for 81. It is believed that Labuschagne is looking to work on his off-spin considering Queensland already have the leg-spin option of Mitchell Swepson.
Will Potts get a look in?
Matthew Potts has made an impressive start to his Test career, having picked up 20 wickets at 28 runs apiece in his five Tests. With James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson being England’s first-choice pacers, where he will fit in the scheme of things remains to be seen. Nevertheless, he picked up his first five-wicket haul (5 for 65) of the season in Durham’s impressive innings and nine-run victory over Derbyshire.
He has gone top of the pile in the wicket-taker’s list in Division Two, with 16 scalps in six innings at 26.87.
Pujara does his thing
Cheteshwar Pujara notched up yet another century for Sussex, scoring 151 against Gloucestershire to go with his 115 in the first game of Division Two against Durham. As a result, he is now the leading run-scorer in Division Two with 332 runs at 66.40. With the entire nation busy with the IPL, Pujara is honing his skills in England, where India and Australia will play the WTC final from June 7.
Abbas continues to soar
Mohammad Abbas is out of contention when it comes to the Pakistan Test squad. But he is pushing his case for a comeback, having already picked up 21 wickets at 13.71 in the three matches for Hampshire. He has already pouched two six-wicket hauls and what’s astonishing is that he is yet to bowl a wide in 4,712 deliveries he has bowled for the club. He continues from where he left off last season in which he snaffled 50 wickets at a staggering 17.62.
Murtagh stars on historic night
Middlesex fast bowler Tim Murtagh was on fire against Kent at Lord’s. His 10 wickets in the match helped his side to a comfortable nine-wicket victory. During the course of his top spell, he also snared his 1,000th wicket for Middlesex across formats.
Murtagh who chose to play for Middlesex over Ireland, said, “It’s nice to get past that landmark for Middlesex. I’ve enjoyed my time here, it’s been a long time and who knows how long I’ve got left, so I’m going to enjoy every wicket that I take at the moment.”