Divisions One and Two of the County Championship are well and truly in full swing, with plenty of Australians plying their craft in England.
The Inner Sanctum takes a look at how the Australian players fared during the opening two weeks of the 2022 County Championship season.
Marcus Harris (Gloucestershire):
Opening batter Marcus Harris started his County Championship campaign for Gloucestershire in style, compiling 136 runs off 231 balls in the first innings of his side’s match against Yorkshire.
Harris’ century included 22 fours and one six, helping Gloucestershire to a first-innings total of 227.
The 29-year-old only managed to make 18 off 35 balls in the second innings, however, he will be pleased with his overall output in his first game for his new side since swapping over from Leicestershire.
Having fallen out of favour in the Australian Test side, Harris will be looking to remind selectors of his batting capabilities throughout the English summer.
Gloucestershire ended up losing the match by six wickets.
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Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan):
Having missed Glamorgan’s opening match of the County Championship season against Durham, Marnus Labuschagne arrived from Pakistan in time for his side’s clash with Nottinghamshire.
After electing to bowl first, Glamorgan had Nottinghamshire 5-263 in their first innings, before Labuschagne made an instant impact with the ball.
Bowling medium pace, the Queenslander managed to take 2-11 off five overs, which included the dismissal of Nottinghamshire’s top scorer and Brisbane Heat teammate Ben Duckett for 122. This helped restrict Nottinghamshire to a first-innings total of 302.
Labuschagne was then dismissed cheaply for three in reply, shouldering arms to a delivery that cannoned into his pads and was given LBW. This is of course not the first time he has been dismissed in this fashion, something which the Australian cricket public witnessed in the most recent Marsh Sheffield Shield season.
The 27-year-old got another opportunity with the ball in the second innings, finishing with figures of 0-34 off eight overs. However, Labuschagne’s efforts with the bat in the second innings proved to be crucial to the outcome of the match.
Chasing 166 for victory, Labuschagne posted a classy 50 not out to guide his side to a seven-wicket win and their first for the season. Glamorgan now sits on top of Division Two with 34 points.
Michael Neser (Glamorgan):
Joining Labuschagne at Glamorgan is fellow Queensland teammate Michael Neser, who also played his first game for the season against Nottinghamshire.
Neser took 3-56 off 17.1 overs in the first innings, before making a handy 20 off 33 balls with the bat to contribute to his side’s 77 run first-innings lead.
The 32-year-old then proceeded to finish with figures of 1-25 off 19 overs in the second innings, with an impressive economy rate of 1.32.
James Pattinson (Nottinghamshire):
Coming up against fellow Australians Labuschagne and Neser, Victorian paceman James Pattinson represented Nottinghamshire for the first time in season 2022.
With his side batting first, Pattinson added 20 off 45 balls to Nottinghamshire’s first innings total, before being dismissed by Neser by way of caught and bowled.
The Victorian was quite expensive across both innings with the ball. Pattinson finished with figures of 1-111 off 27 overs in the first innings and followed up with 1-57 off 10 overs in the second, at an economy rate of 5.70.
Pattinson will certainly be hoping to have more of an impact in Nottinghamshire’s upcoming clash with Durham.
Matthew Renshaw (Somerset):
Queenslander Matthew Renshaw played his first game for the County Championship season against Essex, in what proved to be a thrilling encounter.
After being dismissed cheaply for seven in the first innings, Renshaw responded in the second, scoring 45 off 106 balls in what was Somerset’s second-highest score for the innings.
Somerset could only compile 109 and 154 respectively across both innings in what was bowling-friendly conditions at Taunton.
Peter Siddle (Somerset):
Veteran fast bowler Peter Siddle began his County Championship campaign for Somerset in its comprehensive loss to Hampshire in the opening game of the season.
With Somerset electing to bat first, Siddle contributed 16 runs lower down the order, before taking 2-66 off 25 overs in the first innings.
The 37-year-old didn’t get a chance to bowl again after his side succumbed to an innings and 113 runs defeat.
In Somerset’s clash with Essex, Siddle was at his economical best against his former side, claiming 2-42 off 23 overs at a commendable economy rate of 1.83 in the first innings. This was followed by figures of 3-25 off 12 overs in the second innings of the match, almost helping his side to an unlikely victory in which Somerset was only one wicket away from defending 83.
Mark Steketee (Essex):
Queensland paceman Mark Steketee has played in both of Essex’s opening two games of the season.
Only bowling once against Kent, Steketee failed to take a wicket in the first innings, finishing with figures of 0-96 off 29 overs.
However, the leading wicket-taker from the Marsh Sheffield Shield 2021-22 season produced a fine performance in his side’s match against Somerset, helping Essex to a nail-biting one-wicket win.
Steketee took 3-47 off 13 overs in the first innings, followed by figures of 2-53 off 17 overs in the second innings. But arguably Steketee’s most important contribution came in the dying stages of the contest.
With the scores level and Essex 9-83 in its second innings, the 28-year-old came to the crease needing only one run to give his side victory.
After surviving two deliveries, Steketee was able to get some pad on a ball that trickled to the leg-side, allowing teammate Adam Rossington to scamper home and seal the win.
Jackson Bird (Kent):
Jackson Bird opened his County Championship campaign for Kent with an impressive display against Essex.
Despite the match ending in a draw, Bird took 3-85 off 28 overs in the first innings, which included the dismissal of former England captain Alastair Cook. This was followed by a quickfire 53 off 46 balls with the bat, including six fours and two sixes.
However, the 35-year-old didn’t have as much of an impact in his side’s 10-wicket loss to Lancashire. Bird failed to take a wicket, producing figures of 0-83 off 25 overs in the first innings.
Regardless, it’s been a very steady start for Bird this season.
Other Australians who are yet to be involved in the County Championship action include Peter Handscomb (Middlesex), Matthew Kelly (Northamptonshire), Josh Phillippe (Sussex), and Nathan McAndrew (Warwickshire).
The next round of County Championship matches is due to begin on April 21.
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