County Championship: Aussie Watch – The Full Toss

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.

Peter Gilbert

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