The first block of the county championship is now complete.
The UK summer is now moving into shorter format cricket as the T20 Blast and the Hundred take over. While most Australians continued their struggles in the championship’s final round, some men stood up to take victory for their sides. Marcus Harris has continued his stellar run of form, while Marnus Labuschagne seemed to find form after struggling for the first few matches. Swing bowler Michael Neser has been the clear stand out of the Australian bowlers. The Inner Sanctum takes you through all the Aussie performers in the County Championship.
Travis Head (Sussex) 32 runs
Travis Head was hoping to use the County Championship to get himself back into the Australian side. Unfortunately for him, his run of form has been horrendous. After dominating the Sheffield Shield, where he was the season’s second-highest run-scorer, the tricky English conditions have beaten him thus far at Sussex.
After batting at 4 for the season, Head was dropped down to 5 for this match. Perhaps due to a lack of confidence in himself or by the coaching staff and captain. Head managed 14 in the first innings before wafting at a ball outside off stump and being caught behind. The second innings went slightly better before being acquired from Ben Coad’s bowling for only 18. With the T20 Blast starting this week, hopefully, the more unrestrained nature of the T20 cricket will allow him to hit his way back into form.
Cameron Bancroft (Durham) 64 runs
It has been an up and down start to the season for Bancroft, who came to the UK later than most of the Aussies. After scoring a half-century in his first match in the country, it was slow going for the opener. Against Worcestershire, it was a good win for the Durham side, and Bancroft was instrumental in chasing the target.
Scoring only 18 in the first innings, Bancroft looked disappointed to get a start without going on for a big score. An issue that plagued him during his stint in the Aussie side. With Durham chasing only 87 for the win, it was important for the openers to get a positive start. He managed seven boundaries and one massive six on his way to 46 not out, securing the side a victory. Bancroft will continue in the Durham squad for the T20 Blast, where he will likely keep wicket.
Peter Siddle (Essex) 4 wickets
The Veteran has had another excellent county stint with Essex, consistently taking wickets and providing valuable experience. In recent days he announced that he was finishing up for the season and heading back to Australia to prepare for the summer. Against Nottinghamshire, in what was a rain-affected draw, Siddle continued his metronomic bowling and wicket-taking.
During Nottinghamshire’s first innings, Siddle managed to run through the top order. Taking the wickets of opener Ben Compton, the number three Ben Duckett, and Lyndon James. Ben Duckett being the most crucial wicket in the Nottinghamshire lineup, with him having previously played for England. Siddle finished with 25 overs 3-87 in the first innings, somewhat more expensive than the usual figures. In the rain-affected second innings of Nottinghamshire, Siddle once again managed the wicket of Ben Compton before the rain finished the match.
Ben McDermott (Derbyshire) 23 runs
Having recently received a call up to the Australian white-ball side, McDermott’s county stint is finished. After coming in as an overseas replacement for Billy Stanlake, McDermott did not impress in the four-day game. Having been touted as a potential test player by Shane Warne, McDermott did not manage to stand up to that praise.
Against Warwickshire, McDermott struggled in both innings. Even though he plays his cricket in Tasmania, he seemed to struggle on green seaming pitches.
Derbyshire’s first innings brought only two runs for McDermott before he edged behind. He did, however, manage a start in the second innings, but as wickets fell around him, batting became difficult. He struck four boundaries on the way to 21 runs. Hopefully, McDermott can turn his form around as he joins up with the Australian white-ball side.
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Michael Neser (Glamorgan) 7 wickets
It has been a campaign to remember for the right arm quick who has dominated against every side. Seeing how well Neser has managed to bowl in the UK has many asking how he did not get a game during the 2019 Ashes. Playing in Glamorgan with fellow Queenslander Marnus Labuschagne has seemed to help Neser feel comfortable.
Against a strong Lancashire side, Neser once again dominated.
Opening the bowling, Neser managed 3-46 from his 15 overs to see Lancashire bowled out for only 173. He also managed to chip in with a handy 17 not out with the bat down the order. The second innings went even better, taking early wickets as well as cleaning up the tail. The highlight was getting Lancashire captain Dane Vilas LBW for only 12. Neser took 4-53 from his 13 overs to put Glamorgan in a winning position.
Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan) 97 runs
After struggling in the early part of the season, Marnus seems to be back in form. A half-century in his last match has led to 2 good scores against Lancashire. Marnus will be staying in the UK during Australia’s white-ball tour as CA cited logistical issues with getting him to the Caribbean. Against what is a quality bowling attack from Lancashire, Marnus looked back to his dominant self.
In Glamorgan’s first innings, Marnus struck seven boundaries on his way to 44. Importantly off only 55 balls, showing the ability to dominant attacks that he possesses. Just as he started to get on top of the bowling, he was out LBW. His technique of walking across to the offside does make this dismissal more likely. The second innings was once again dominant from Marnus, striking at 87.5 this time. He managed to get Glamorgan across the line for a victory on the final day, scoring 63 not out along the way.
Marcus Harris (Leicestershire) 148 runs
Harris has been the clear leading Aussie in the county championship. Having struck 557 runs at over 60 so far, Harris has managed to adapt to the difficult conditions in the UK. With David Warner now pushing 35 and Will Pucovski struggling to stay on the park. There are opening spots available in the Aussie test team, and Harris is doing his best to put his hand up. Against a Gloucestershire side that has struggled in 2021, Marcus Harris dominated.
Striking his third century for the year, Harris punished the ball to all sections of the ground. Showing he was not only a class above his opponents but also his teammates. His 148 came from 236 balls and included 21 fours. This innings has placed Harris within sight of the top 10 run-scorers of the season. And in 2 fewer matches than anyone else on the list. With Harris staying in the UK for the rest of the English summer, there is a chance we see him push for the top run-scorer in the championship.
Dan Worrall (Gloucestershire) 2 wickets
In many ways, Dan Worrall has been the only bowler to stand up for the Gloucestershire side. Unfortunately for him, he cannot do it alone. This has led to 2 innings defeats during the county championship. Worrall’s style of swing bowling suits the English conditions well. Unfortunately, against Leicestershire, Marcus Harris was simply too good.
In the only innings Gloucestershire bowled in, due to the innings defeat, Worral took two wickets. Worral finished with 23 overs 2-57, a mighty effort in what was a difficult match. He will now continue with Gloucestershire in the T20 Blast, a format in which has thrived in recent years.
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