Sheffield Shield 2023-23 – Usman Khawaja – Michael Neser is Australia’s Chris Woakes

Neser’s heroic second-innings 140 helped the Bulls stave off defeat in their recently completed Sheffield Shield clash with NSW at the new Cricket Central ground at Sydney Olympic Park.

Neser’s rich run with the bat, combined with his brilliant bowling, reminds Khawaja of Woakes, who was player of the series in this year’s thrilling Ashes in England.

Woakes took 19 wickets at 18.15 in the only three matches he played and made critical scores of 32 not out at Headingley and 36 at the Oval to help England win both Tests to square the series 2-2. Woakes averages 27.40 with the bat and 29.13 ball in Test cricket. He has batted No.6 for England, scoring a half-century in that position, and has scored a Test hundred batting at No.7 against India at Lord’s in 2018.

Khawaja believes his Queensland teammate, who has already played two Tests for Australia, has the same capabilities.

“Michael Neser has been unbelievable for so many years,” Khawaja said. “A lot of people see him for the amazing bowler that he is but you see the allrounder he is – he bats No.7 for us.

“He’s always been around the group with the Australian cricket team just for his bowling, but I think what he’s offering with his batting, you’ve got a guy who can win you a lot of cricket games.

“He’s got that ‘Woakesy’ type of thing where he can do both, it’s really important to have.

“He’s putting his hand up, definitely.”

Neser’s fifth first-class century on Saturday was also, remarkably, his third in as many matches after finishing a bumper County Championship campaign in the English summer with scores of 176 not out and 123. The 33-year-old plundered 487 runs at 81.16 for Glamorgan, after averaging 35.70 with the bat and 16.67 with the ball last Shield season for Queensland. Neser’s last eight scores in first-class cricket this year are 90, 9, 86, 2, 123, 176*, 18 and 140.

Neser and Queensland wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson blunted the New South Wales attack on Friday and Saturday, sharing a 200-run partnership after coming together with the Bulls five wickets down in their second dig and still 179 runs behind.
Peirson made his seventh first-class century, finishing with 106. He was Queensland’s leading runscorer last summer with 460 runs at 35.38 and was the only Bulls batter to score two centuries. He is making a compelling case to be considered Australia’s next Test gloveman should anything happen to incumbent Alex Carey. Western Australia Josh Inglis has long been Australia’s reserve Test keeper. Peirson was called into the Ashes squad temporarily for the Lord’s Test when Inglis flew home for the birth of his child. Peirson has been one of Australia A’s wicketkeepers in the last three A series against Sri Lanka A and New Zealand A, both home and away, and performed superbly in Sri Lanka in particular.

“Jimmy’s been scoring runs for us the last three years consistently,” Khawaja said.

“He’s obviously pushing his name up for Test selection.

“He was with us at the Ashes as a reserve, he’s been doing all the right things, he’s a great keeper and a leader of the team.”

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