As the coveted Ashes Test series approaches, the rivalry between England and Australia is anticipated to intensify as the English cricket summer approaches. Despite this, a number of players from both teams are playing county cricket in an effort to either prepare for the series or remain in the sights of selectors should they be required to take the field due to an injury before the series begins. One such player is the Australian pacer Michael Neser, who has been in sublime form with the ball for Glamorgan County in Division Two of the current County Championship. His recent four-wicket haul strengthens his case with Cricket Australia’s selection committee.
Notably, the current LV = Insurance County Championship in Cardiff pits the hosts against Worcestershire. Glamorgan, having won the toss, invited Worcestershire to bat first. The decision turned out to be astonishingly favorable for the home team, as they smashed the top order of the visitors within 12.1 overs. On a slow pitch, the Australian pacer and the Dutch bowler Van der Gugten combined to make life difficult for the batsmen. On a pitch where the weather aided the bowlers and the ball seamed throughout the day, both bowlers used the new ball to run through the top order.
Gugten began play by catching Taylor Cornall in front of the wickets in the sixth over of the day, when the scoreboard displayed only 12 runs. Then, in the span of three deliveries, Neser took two wickets in rapid succession. The Australian bowler utilized the slip cordon to eliminate Ed Pollock and Jack Haynes. Thus, Worcestershire rapidly fell to 22/3 by the end of the ninth over.
Azhar Ali, too, fell cheaply to Gugten, courtesy of a one-handed stunner by Marnus Labuschagne, and when things were already looking grim for the visitors, Brett D’Oliveira, Worcestershire’s captain, fell to a superb in-swinger from Michael Neser. In the fourteenth over, the visitors were laboring at 25/5. In addition, after both bowlers were removed for a period of time, the visitors were hopeful for a reprieve, but James Harris had other plans as he bowled out Worcestershire for a meager 109 runs.
Michael Neser’s batting salvaged Glamorgan after an abrupt collapse.
Meanwhile, Worcestershire’s assistant coach, Kadeer Ali, expressed his thoughts on the team’s performance. Despite the difficult conditions, he believed that his batters were insufficient that day and could have performed better with the bat.
“A very strange day. Clearly, we were disappointing with the bat,” Ali said of his team’s batting performance.
Eddie Byrom, the home team’s opener, was expelled early, indicating that it would not be an easy match for the hosts. However, Glamorgan captain David Lloyd and Australian stalwart Marnus Labuschagne constructed a crucial 81-run partnership to bail their side out of early trouble, before Adam Finch brought the visitors back into the game with three wickets, reducing the hosts to 120/6. Michael Neser subsequently demonstrated his all-around abilities with the bat.
Together with Billy Root, he forged a crucial unbeaten partnership of 57 runs, which had the potential to be the game-winning one as well. At ends, the pair’s score for the day was 177 for six. Notably, the Australian is still unblemished with 33 runs entering the second day, as Glamorgan hold a commanding 68-run lead over Worcestershire.