Leeds, May 04 - 07, 2023, County Championship Division Two
245 & 352/4d
(T:492) 106 & 412/9

Match drawn


Neser hat-trick puts Yorkshire to the sword and Australian selectors on alert

Jonny Bairstow a bystander as Glamorgan seize control at Headingley

Michael Neser appeals for a wicket, LV= Insurance County Championship, Durham vs Glamorgan, The Riverside, May 14, 2022

Michael Neser's 7 for 32 included a hat-trick  •  Getty Images

Glamorgan 245 and 57 for 2 lead Yorkshire 106 (Neser 7-32) by 196 runs
If you are going to send a message to your national selectors from the other side of the world, doing so when they are awake can be tough, particularly with 11am starts. Sometimes, though, a player nails their small window.
By 12.28pm on Friday at Headingley, Michael Neser did just that with typical precision, completing a maiden hat-trick in first-class cricket. It was early enough to have decent cut-through back home in Australia. Early enough, even with the ten-hour difference, that perhaps an everyman like Australia chief selector George Bailey would have been aimlessly scrolling social media before bed when it dropped into the feeds. He might have still been taking it all in some 15 minutes later when Neser removed Jordan Thompson to claim career-best figures of 7 for 32.
The Queensland seamer became only 11th Glamorgan cricketer to take a hat-trick, the ninth to do so in the County Championship and the first since Robert Croft in 2010. And the great thing for a player keen to make as much noise as possible right now is the racket such historical feats tend to make.
Timing is everything, and few will appreciate that more than Neser, the 33-year-old alternate to a pace attack of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc. The misfortune of vying for a starting spot among three modern-great quicks manifested itself in a 17-man squad list for the World Test Championship and first two Ashes Tests that did not bear his name.
A spell of this ilk with 2023's Dukes at one of the Ashes venues won't hurt, and the speed of the exploits was as vital for trending across hemispheres as the match itself. Yorkshire's last five wickets fell for just 16 runs inside 21 deliveries, with Glamorgan closing day two with a lead of 196 and eight second innings wickets remaining. Even with just 29.3 overs of play on day two, progress has been swift.
Dawid Malan was the first of the hat-trick, building into his work before Neser trapped him on the crease from around the wicket. George Hill's leave was understandable given the original line of the delivery was fifth stump before seaming in to clip the very top of off. The best of the three deliveries confirmed the hat-trick: swinging in absurdly late, gathering pace off the pitch to strike off stump once more - this time hard enough to crack the middle-and-off bail.
In real time, you wondered why Dom Bess offered no shot considering Hill's dismissal the ball before. And yet watching the replay - over and over and over again - you can understand why. Even given the end result, you wouldn't leave the house if you lived your life worrying about deliveries that far wide.
"Pretty stiff ball to face straight up," Neser said, sympathies with Bess. Having tried to move the ball away from the right-handers, Neser decided to go the other way and found more than he was bargaining for. "Fortunately enough it worked," he said, in a typically subdued manner.
He was more engaging on his Test snub, which Bailey explained isn't a snub. Given Neser is not part of the first-choice attack, it made sense to keep him playing competitive red-ball cricket instead of travelling around as a glorified net bowler, as Neser was during the 2019 series. The experience of that tour makes this decision a little more palatable, though the annoyance of having to wait a little longer to add to his two Test caps still has not worn off. Frightening from an English perspective, considering his talents and this performance after a winter of 40 Sheffield Shield wickets at 16.67 during Queensland's 2022-23 campaign.
"It's disappointing not to be part of that squad, but I've got to look at the positives," Neser said. "I'm playing cricket here, and if I do get called up I'll get ready to go. Having matches under my belt is far more important than bowling overs in the nets and not playing any games. From a squad point of view, it's probably best I'm playing games and being ready to go if the opportunity arises.
"I know personally I like to be playing constantly. Having matches under the belt is probably the most important thing. You can be bowling fit doing that in the nets, but it doesn't emulate what you do in the game. I feel like I'm in a good place physically and mentally, so we'll wait and see."
All of this is music to Glamorgan's ears, particularly with Marnus Labuschagne leaving in two rounds' time. Replacing his runs will be hard enough, and he is currently in the process of following up 65 out of 245 in the first innings with what the visitors hope will be another vital contribution in the second.
Wickets, though, are the real premium, underlining Neser's value. His record stands at 72 dismissals at an average of 21.65 midway through his 17th match for the county, and it is no coincidence Glamorgan have only lost two of the previous 16.
Even with the weather, a Glamorgan victory - a first of the season - seems the likeliest result. However, the presence of Jonny Bairstow gives a lowly Yorkshire team a sense of danger. Bairstow watched the Neser-induced carnage from the other end, and you could sense a growing sense of responsibility. A shame, then that he brought about the end of the innings: an attempt at keeping strike for the next over led to the run-out of a hobbling Ben Coad. Yorkshire were 106 all out, Bairstow unbeaten - and unsatisfied - on 20.
"He looked like he was in good nick, too," Neser said of Bairstow, who is two days into a competitive return from nine months out. Having kept for 71.5 overs on day one, Bairstow originally tried to hold his batting exclusively for day two, burning through Mickey Edwards and Matty Fisher as nightwatchers before reluctantly batting out the final two overs of the day.
An innings of 34 balls can only tell you so much, but his timing is up to speed. We probably knew that from the 97 and 57 struck against Nottinghamshire 2nd XI last week, but a tuck off his hip through square leg, and a straight drive inside mid-off were good signs. He and Malan ticked along nicely, suggesting something substantial from the international duo. But their partnership ended on 31, and such was the flurry of dismissals at the other end that by the time Bairstow regained any meaningful strike, boundary riders were in place. A swipe of Timm van der Gugten to midwicket felt like the start of a retaliation that was quickly shelved by Kiran Carlson's work at cover, swooping and taking out two stumps with a direct hit.
"We'll see how we go in the second innings," Neser said regarding Bairstow, though it was unsure if he meant Bairstow's or Glamorgan's. Perhaps both. After all, the part Bairstow played in last summer's chases for England against New Zealand (twice) and India will have Neser and his team-mates on edge in the final innings. Not to mention that Leicestershire chased down a target of 389 on this ground a month ago.
Smatterings of rains before the eventual day-closing downpour at 4.30pm were negotiated well by openers David Lloyd and Andrew Salter. The former skewed a thick outside edge to backward point before the latter felt stitched up by an lbw decision granted to Thompson.
The absence of Coad, hurt on day one, dulls the incisiveness of this Yorkshire attack, meaning Glamorgan should dictate the final throes of this match even with another poor forecast for Saturday. Whether 2022 Bairstow or a spell such as Neser's, they require something special to turn this around.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

AskESPNcricinfo Logo
Instant answers to T20 questions
Yorkshire Innings
<1 / 3>

County Championship Division Two