Friday, June 14, 2024

Aussies abroad: Who’s playing county cricket in 2024 | cricket.com.au

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Ashton Agar – Northamptonshire

Agar will link up with Northants for four T20 Blast matches following the T20 World Cup as cover for Zimbabwe allrounder Sikandar Raza when he departs for international duties with a five-match T20I series against India. The left-armer’s first game will be on July 5 against Lancashire with his final match away to Durham on July 14, with Raza returning for the final two group-stage fixtures. It will be Agar’s third stint in the T20 Blast after previously representing Middlesex (2018) and Warwickshire (2019).

Riley Meredith – Somerset

The Tasmanian speedster’s first foray into county cricket comes at Somerset where he has signed on for all three formats. Regularly clocked at 150kph and above, Meredith promises to be a handful for many English batters. The 27-year-old will arrive in the UK ahead of the club’s T20 Blast opener on May 31 and will be available until at least the quarterfinal stage of the T20 competition. He will also be available for selection during the Metro Bank One-Day Cup group stage plus a managed number of County Championship fixtures during that period. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing in English conditions and I can’t wait to get started,” Meredith said. “Somerset are one of the biggest names in the English domestic game and I’m excited to be able to play a part in their journey this year.”

Ben Dwarshuis Durham

Durham have signed Dwarshuis as their T20 replacement for Scott Boland, whose county stint was cut short due to a heel injury. Veteran Peter Siddle has replaced Boland in the longer format with the club opting for the Sydney Sixers’ left-armer to join Ashton Turner as their overseas players for the T20 Blast. The 29-year-old returns to the UK for a second county stint have previously played for Worcestershire 2021, picking up 15 wickets with a best return of 4-31 against Yorkshire. He also played one match for Birmingham Phoenix in the 2022 Hundred season. “Ben has a terrific record with the Sydney Sixers and is constantly up there as one of the top wicket takers in the BBL, his white ball cricket skills are a very good and we are pleased to have him on board,” said Marcus North, Durham director of cricket. “The left-arm option gives a variety to an already strong bowling attack and he can also contribute with the bat.”

Spencer Johnson – Surrey

With Sam Curran, Will Jacks, Reece Topley and Chris Jordan on England duty at next month’s T20 World Cup, Surrey have reinforced their squad with the signing of the South Australia and Brisbane Heat left-armer for the first eight matches of this year’s T20 Blast. The 28-year-old, currently at the Indian Premier League with Gujarat Titans and overlooked by Australia for the T20 World Cup, has already made waves in south London after his extraordinary haul of three wickets for just one run in 20 balls on his debut in The Hundred for Oval Invincibles last August. “I’m very excited to join Surrey and I have some fantastic memories from playing at the Oval last year,” said Johnson, who is set to make his debut for the club against Hampshire on May 30. Johnson, who is scheduled to wrap up his stint against Glamorgan on June 21, joins compatriot and fellow quick Sean Abbott among Surrey’s overseas options. Surrey were scheduled to have Aaron Hardie for the entire Blast group stage but the allrounder opted out of his stint to manage his workloads.

Charlie Stobo – Kent

Fresh off helping Western Australia to the Marsh Sheffield Shield title, Stobo was announced in May as Kent’s third Aussie fast bowler signed for 2024. Xavier Bartlett and Wes Agar are also featuring for the county, with Stobo to provide cover in all formats until mid-September. The Sydney-born 29-year-old played all but one match for WA during their 2023-24 Shield title run, taking 22 wickets at 32.50. Stobo is also a handy batter, averaging 17 at first-class level.

Chris Green – Lancashire

The NSW and Sydney Thunder allrounder with suit up with Lancashire Lightning for his fourth stint in the T20 Blast after previously representing the Birmingham Bears (2019) and Middlesex (2021 and 2022). Green replaces Nathan Lyon in Lancashire’s T20 squad after his county campaign was reduced by Cricket Australia to include only seven red-ball matches. Across three seasons in the Blast, Green has played 27 games for 29 wickets, also scoring 324 runs. In 2021, he claimed a hat-trick against Kent Spitfires and finished with career best figures of 5-32. He comes into the 2024 campaign after making his T20 debut for Australia against India last December and being appointed Thunder captain for BBL|13.

Ashton Turner – Durham

The Perth Scorchers skipper returns to the Riverside Ground for a third straight T20 Blast season with Durham. The 31-year-old played in all 14 of Durham’s Blast games last year, scoring two fifties and claiming his career-best T20 bowling figures of 3-20. The West Australian has previously captained the club’s T20 side and Durham cricket director Marcus North said Turner’s leadership would be a real asset. “During his two spells at the club he has demonstrated vital leadership skills and fits into our dressing room very well,” North said. “He is a proven leader and run scorer having captained the Scorchers and Western Australia to multiple championships in recent years.” Turner’s KFC BBL|13 campaign was cut short by a knee injury that required surgery. He is currently part of Lucknow Super Giants’ 2024 IPL squad under former Australia and WA coach Justin Langer.

Turner returns to Durham for a third consecutive T20 Blast season // Getty

Sean Abbott – Surrey

The immensely popular allrounder returns to The Oval following an outstanding 2023 campaign, which included a breathtaking 34-ball ton in the T20 Blast. His 37 wickets at 24.78 and 456 runs at 45.60 helped the Three Feathers secure back-to-back County Championship Division One titles alongside former South Australian swing bowler Daniel Worrall. Abbott will be available for Surrey’s four-day and T20 matches in May and June.

Nathan Lyon – Lancashire

Lyon’s second stint in county cricket comes after his 2023 Ashes campaign was cut short by a serious calf injury, signing at Lancashire for most of the 2024 season where he will team up with Ashes foe James Anderson. While his first foray into English domestic cricket yielded six wickets at 67 for Worcestershire in 2017, Lyon boasts a formidable Test record in the UK with 59 wickets at 29 in 16 matches. Australia’s greatest off-spinner was initially expected to play the entire county season across all three formats for the Red Rose, but Cricket Australia has since advised the club he will only be available for seven of the first nine rounds of the four-day format to manage his bowling workloads. “This is an exciting opportunity for me, and I am really looking forward to heading over to England for a full season of county cricket,” Lyon said. “I love playing cricket in England. I’m keen to keep learning, keep improving my game and hopefully I can contribute to winning matches for the Red Rose and pass on some of the experiences that I have gained over the years throughout my career.” Lyon will arrive at Old Trafford ahead of Lancashire’s season opener against Surrey on April 5.

Marcus Harris – Leicestershire

Harris will return to Leicestershire after a profitable spell at the club in 2021, when he scored 887 runs in 12 matches at an average of 55.44 before moving to Gloucestershire in recent seasons. Set to play the first seven matches of the campaign – including four-day fixtures at famous grounds such as Headingley and Lord’s – the Victorian opener was signed by the club as a direct replacement for state teammate Will Pucovski, who was forced to pull out of his deal following another concussion suffered in the Marsh Sheffield Shield. Harris will join another Vics teammate in Peter Handscomb at Grace Road.

Matt Renshaw – Somerset

Renshaw returns to Somerset for a third time after stints with the county in 2018 and 2022. The left-hander will be available for the first seven matches of the 2024 County Championship season, where Somerset will be competing in Division 1. The Yorkshire-born Renshaw has a fine county record, with five centuries for Somerset and an average of 49.26 from 14 first-class matches. Renshaw also played three county matches for Kent in 2019.

Beau Webster – Gloucestershire

The men’s domestic summer’s most dominant player has signed on with Gloucestershire for the T20 Blast and will also be available for their County Championship fixtures against Yorkshire and Glamorgan in June. The off-spinning pace-bowling allrounder returns to the UK for a second straight year after scoring 260 runs and claiming 14 wickets for Essex during the 50-over competition in 2023. “I am really excited and very grateful for the opportunity to join Gloucestershire … I’m looking forward to not only developing my game further in the UK but also playing a part in helping the team win matches during my time here,” Webster said.

Wes Agar – Kent

South Australia seamer Wes Agar has signed up for a return to Kent in 2024 and will spend the first four months of the 2024 county season with the southern county. Agar played six County Championship games in 2023, netting 21 wickets, and also featured in a handful of T20 Blast matches. He is expected to be available for 10 first-class matches and the group stages of the T20 Blast.

Cameron Bancroft – Gloucestershire

The WA opener returns to the club he played with in 2016 and 2017, in what was his first foray into County Cricket. Bancroft is set to be available for Gloucestershire in all three formats, for most of the UK season. The 31-year-old will be keen to test himself against the Dukes ball after below-average returns for his lofty first-class standards in recent County stints. In 2021, playing for Durham, Bancroft scored 183 runs at 26.14, and failed to reach 50 in eight innings. In 2023, playing for Somerset, he scored 137 runs at 19.57, and also failed to raise the bat in seven knocks.

Xavier Bartlett – Kent

Fresh from being awarded his maiden national contract last month, Cricket Australia have pulled their emerging quick out of his planned five-game County Championship stint with Kent, which would have been his first foray into top-flight English cricket after featuring for club side Wargrave last year. He will now remain in Australia following the end of the 2023-24 season to manage his workloads after a breakout summer that saw him earn both his ODI and T20I debuts against the West Indies in February. However, the 25-year-old will still feature for Kent in their first eight T20 Blast matches beginning in late May. “Xavier Bartlett’s steep rise has been great to see,” said Simon Cook, Kent’s Director of Cricket. “National Boards are always going to protect their best assets, so it wasn’t a shock when we received news from Cricket Australia that they would be withdrawing his NOC (No Objection Certificate). This decision has potentially not ruled him out for the Blast, and we’re continuing to discuss our options with Cricket Australia.”

Scott Boland – Durham

Boland’s first foray into county cricket comes a year after a mixed 2023 UK tour with the Australian Test side. The seamer was a crucial part of a World Test Championship final victory over India at The Oval, before struggling for penetration during his two Ashes Tests in Birmingham and Leeds. The 34-year-old is set for an extended stay at Durham – who have been promoted back up to Division 1 in 2024 – and will feature in both four-day and T20 fixtures for the Northern England club until the end of July.

Peter Handscomb – Leicestershire

Handscomb has an extensive history in county cricket, having captained Middlesex and played for Gloucestershire, Yorkshire and Durham. He joined his fifth club, Leicestershire, ahead of the 2023 season where he enjoyed a strong campaign, scoring 1,202 runs across white- and red-ball formats (including a debut hundred in a home four-day fixture against Yorkshire) and taking 48 catches behind the stumps. In September the Victorian signed on for a further two years at the club, and is set to feature across all three formats in the 2024 season.

Handscomb in action for Leicestershire in the Metro Bank One Day Cup, August 2023 // Getty

Dan Hughes Sussex

Veteran Blues opener Dan Hughes will enter the County Championship competition for the first time as he joins Indian Cheteshwar Pujara in linking up with Sussex. Hughes, 34, will be available in the T20 and first-class formats from the beginning of the T20 competition, and will also link up with South Australia quick Nathan McAndrew. In an era where players generally have many teams on their resume, Hughes has been remarkably loyal to NSW, while after briefly playing with the Thunder in the Big Bash, he has built a tremendous record with the Sixers. 

Marnus Labuschagne – Glamorgan

Labuschagne’s affiliation with the Welsh county will extend to at least the conclusion of 2024 after he penned a two-year deal in September 2022. The star Test batter first joined the club in 2019, and within months made a shock introduction to Ashes cricket as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith in the Lord’s Test of that same year. Since then he has proven invaluable for the club, and in 26 first-class matches has scored over 2,000 runs at an average of 55.52 (including eight centuries) and taken 36 wickets. He is set to link up with Glamorgan in May for the 2024 season.

Labuschagne engages with England and Sussex’s Ollie Robinson in May 2023 // Getty

Nathan McAndrew – Sussex

The South Australia workhorse is heading back to Hove for a two-month stint in his second season with Sussex. He claimed 31 wickets in the County Championship at 24.19 in 2023 – including a five-wicket haul on debut – and also averaged 26.5 with the bat. His timeframe in 2024 will see him available for just two County Championship fixtures, while playing in the club’s T20 Blast group stages, and opening three games of the One-Day Cup. The county has also signed West Indies quick Jayden Seales, who will be their first choice international for the start of the season until June. McAndrew got his opportunity to play more the club last season after Seales was ruled out with a knee injury.

Michael Neser – Hampshire

After three successful seasons alongside Marnus Labuschagne at Glamorgan, Neser has been lured away from the Welsh county and will play for Hampshire in 2024. The Test and ODI-capped 33-year-old joins the Hawks for the first eight games of their T20 Vitality Blast campaign, during which he will also be available for their red-ball side. Neser has unsurprisingly made an impact with the ball in recent County Championship seasons but it was his incredible form with the bat that made headlines in 2023, when he finished with 487 runs from just seven innings, including back-to-back centuries.

Daniel Sams – Essex

The 31-year-old Daniel Sams returns for a third season with Essex, signed on for the first set of eight matches between May and June before decamping to the US for Major League Cricket. Sams won the Blast’s season-long MVP award in 2023, a statistical formula identifying him as the No.1 player after he scored 419 runs and took 25 wickets for Essex. He might even have won the title for them if it hadn’t been for a remarkable one-handed catch by Somerset’s Tom Kohler-Cadmore in the final in Birmingham that ended his brilliant knock on 45 off just 26 balls just when it appeared he could be firing Essex to victory.

Chris Tremain – Northamptonshire

The NSW Blues veteran will return to Northants for the start of the 2024 season, signing on to play the first four games (or until April 29)  – the maximum possible for him under visa restrictions. The 32-year-old took 13 wickets in three games for Northants in early 2023, but the club fell away after his departure and were eventually relegated from Division One. “I enjoyed every moment I spent with the group last season. I hope I can make an impact for the time I’m there and help set the tone for the remainder of the County Championship,” Tremain told the club website. Head coach John Sadler said Tremain’s “style of bowling is very well suited to English conditions” and had “made a huge impact at the club” in his 2023 stint.

Ben McDermott – Hampshire

The Hobart Hurricane and Queensland state cricketer will return to Hampshire for the 2024 T20 Blast season. It will be McDermott’s third-straight year playing for the Hawks where he helped claim a title for the club in his first season. The wicketkeeper-bat has scored 901 runs in 32 appearances for the Hawks. “I’ve absolutely loved my time as a Hawk so far, so it was an easy decision for me to come back,” McDermott told the club website. Hampshire director of cricket Giles White said, “we are delighted that Ben is returning – a great team man and explosive with the bat; he’s an integral part of our T20 plans.”

Withdrawn players

Will Pucovski (Leicestershire): The Victorian opener was withdrawn from his stint in County Cricket following his latest concussion in the penultimate round of the Marsh Sheffield Shield. He was due to join Leicestershire in April for their opening five fixtures of the 2024 season, but a nasty blow on March 3 while batting against Tasmania that left him visibly ill on the field. He was ruled out of the trip on March 14 and quickly replaced by the club with fellow Victorian Marcus Harris. 

Will Sutherland (Somerset): The 24-year-old suffered a back issue while captaining Victoria in the final round of Sheffield Shield games and was withdrawn from playing in the County Championship on medical advice. It would have been Sutherland’s first appearance in the UK competition, coming after making his ODI debut for Australia against the West Indies. He had been due to play in the opening rounds of first-class county games in April and May, before playing in the T20 Blast.

Aaron Hardie (Surrey): The WA allrounder was withdrawn from his UK stint at the behest of Cricket Australia’s medical team. The 25-year-old who was born in the UK but raised in Perth had been set to feature in three first-class four-day County Championship fixtures and the entirety of the T20 Blast group phase between May and July. 

Australian players who featured in the 2023 County Championship

Durham: Matthew Kuhnemann

Essex: Daniel Sams

Glamorgan: Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser

Gloucestershire: Marcus Harris

Hampshire: Nathan Ellis, Ben McDermott

Kent: Wes Agar, Kane Richardson

Leicestershire: Peter Handscomb

Northamptonshire: Chris Tremain, Jordan Buckingham, Sam Whiteman, Chris Lynn, Andrew Tye

Somerset: Peter Siddle, Cameron Bancroft

Surrey: Sean Abbott, Dan Worrall

Sussex: Nathan McAndrew, Steve Smith

Warwickshire: Glenn Maxwell

Yorkshire: Mickey Edwards

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