Feature

Aussies abroad: Harris' statement, Finch's rapid fifty, Labuschagne's all-round show, and more

A number of Australian players headed overseas for the winter to play in IPL and county cricket. Here is how they fared last week

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
19-Apr-2022
Marcus Harris made a century on his Gloucestershire debut  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Marcus Harris made a century on his Gloucestershire debut  •  PA Images via Getty Images

With Australia's international commitments done for the season, some national-side members as well as those aspiring for a place or a return to the team ply their trade in different formats across the world. Here is how they fared last week.
County cricket
Reserve Test opener Marcus Harris made a statement to Australia's selectors and new coach Andrew McDonald with a superb century in his first appearance for Gloucestershire against Yorkshire in division one of the county championship.
Harris made 136 out of his team's total of 227 on the opening day in Bristol, when the next highest score in his team was 21. He did it against international bowlers in Matthew Fisher, Haris Rauf and Dom Bess, who combined for eight of Yorkshire's ten wickets. Harris struck 22 fours and one six, and batted over five hours while facing 231 balls.
Matt Renshaw made a vital 45 batting at No. 3 for Somerset in a low-scoring thriller against Essex in Taunton. Peter Siddle tried his best alongside Craig Overton to pull off a miracle for Somerset, claiming three second-innings wickets and five in the match, but Essex scraped home chasing 84 with one wicket in hand.
It was the Queenslander Mark Steketee who had to survive three balls batting at No. 11 for Essex to help Adam Rossington hit the winning runs, after he also picked up five wickets in the match.
Marnus Labuschagne missed out in his first innings of the season for Glamorgan but made an unbeaten 50 in the second to help guide his side home in a chase of 166 against Nottinghamshire. Glamorgan and Queensland team-mate Michael Neser took four wickets in the game.
IPL
Aaron Finch found some form in the IPL with a blistering half-century for Kolkata Knight Riders against Rajasthan Royals. Finch smashed 58 off 28 balls with nine fours and two sixes. It was his second half-century in three T20 innings after fighting his way out of a slump in the only T20I against Pakistan.
What would please Finch and Australia's selectors the most was that his movement patterns and ball-striking looked in great order after getting out of sync in Pakistan. There were two noteworthy strokes against left-arm pace, thus indicating his balance was back. Finch produced a powerful clip wide of mid-on off a threatening inswinger from Trent Boult, apart from a lofted inside-out drive over long-off against Obed McCoy.
Finch's Knight Riders team-mate Pat Cummins did not have a good night by comparison. He conceded 1 for 50 with the ball, with just four wickets in four games in the IPL so far this season at an alarming economy rate of 12. Cummins was also out for a first-ball duck as the third victim in Yuzvendra Chahal's hat-trick.
Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood hit the ground running for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Maxwell smashed 55 from 34 balls, while Hazlewood took 3 for 28 in a crucial win over Delhi Capitals.
In the same match, the opposition opener David Warner continued his fine form with 66 off 38 balls in the chase, including five sixes. But Mitchell Marsh's first outing for Capitals was far from fluent, making 14 off 24 balls batting at No. 3 as they fell 17 runs short of their target chasing 190.
Meanwhile, Matthew Wade was dropped by Gujarat Titans after a lean first five games, although he was unfortunate to be run-out for 12 off six balls against Royals. Elsewhere, Tim David continues to be benched by the struggling Mumbai Indians despite Mumbai losing all four games that he has been left out of.
Did you see?
Labuschagne found some form with the bat but he also picked up two wickets with the ball for Glamorgan, except that he wasn't bowling his trademark legspin. Instead, he was bowling seam-up, something he did bowl one over of during the last Test tour of Pakistan and he has bowled in first-class cricket previously. He nicked off Tom Moores for 4 and then picked up Ben Duckett on 122 caught and bowled.
Forced absences
Marsh contracted Covid-19, and was thus admitted to hospital. Capitals confirmed in a statement that their "medical team is closely monitoring Marsh's condition". But he will need to isolate for at least seven days as per tournament rules, and will be unavailable for at least their next two matches.
Performance of the week
Harris' hundred on his first outing for Gloucestershire was an eye-catching performance for a number of reasons. He remains behind Usman Khawaja and Warner as Australia's third-choice opener after losing this place during the Ashes, but a strong winter for Gloucestershire will bode well for his chances in the 2023 Ashes in England, particularly after he performed so well for Leicestershire in 2021.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo