Marnus Labuschagne has made a big impact on his first day of the 2023 county season, but with the ball, not the bat.
The Queenslander picked up two wickets bowling off-spin, a change from the usual leg-spin or medium pace he rolls out, after his Glamorgan won the toss and chose to bowl first against Durham in Cardiff.
However, the day belonged to the visitors with Durham reaching 6-382 when stumps were called.
Fellow Aussie Michael Neser opened the bowling in his return to the competition, picking up the wicket of former England representative Scott Borthwick to finish with 1-55 from 19 overs.
Labuschagne’s tweakers (2-73 from 15 overs) proved invaluable, albeit a little expensive, for Glamorgan captain David Lloyd, as the Aussie picked up two set batters in Michael Jones (69) and Ollie Robinson (73).
Sydney-born Dutch representative Timm van der Gugten also chimed in with a couple of wickets (2-60) but it was generally tough going for the Welsh county.
“We thought it might do a little bit more this morning session,” Glamorgan coach Matt Maynard said regarding the decision to ask Durham to bat first.
“We didn’t get too much out of it though.
“Michael Neser on his first day and Timm van der Gugten were exceptional … but throughout the course of the day we didn’t string enough tight overs together.”
Maynard also offered some insight into Labuschagne’s foray into bowling off-spin, a move that has been in the works for a while with the fortunes of the Bulls in mind.
“Marnus does what Marnus wants,” Maynard said with a laugh.
“With his leg-spin, (Mitch) Swepson is there at Queensland. He feels that if he can develop his off-spin more, and he’s been bowling all the time in the nets with it, that he could also be another weapon for them.
“Obviously the ball turns the other way to Swepson and (Matt) Kuhnemann, another teammate.
“That’s why he’s done it. He does spin it, but he was just a little bit nervous today, bowling it for the first time in a professional game.”
Kuhnemann will be looking to continue the hot start to his county career when Durham bowl on day two, with the recent Test debutant currently the highest wicket-taker in division two of the County Championship with 12 wickets.
Elsewhere, Marcus Harris made just one for Gloucestershire in their match against Worcestershire where 17 wickets fell on the opening day.
23-year-old Tom Price stole the show, scoring 109 off 98 balls at No.9, after coming in at 7-45, before taking 4-38 including a hat-trick in an unforgettable day of cricket.
Wes Agar’s debut for Kent included the wicket of Sir Alastair Cook in his fifth over but a weather-impacted day meant he bowled only 13 overs to finish with 1-39.
Northamptonshire’s star recruit Chris Tremain couldn’t add to his 13 wickets for the season on the first day against Hampshire, finishing with 0-55 from 17 overs although he did have centurion James Vince dropped off his bowling when the Sydney Sixers star was on 25.
Cameron Bancroft (seven) missed out for Somerset while Mickey Edwards has made his debut for Yorkshire, taking 0-54 from 14 overs on day one against Nathan McAndrew’s Sussex.
Australians in the County Championship
Durham: Matthew Kuhnemann
Essex: Daniel Sams (T20s only)
Glamorgan: Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser
Gloucestershire: Marcus Harris
Hampshire: Nathan Ellis, Ben McDermott (both T20s only)
Kent: Wes Agar, Kane Richardson (T20s only)
Leicestershire: Peter Handscomb (April and May)
Northamptonshire: Lance Morris (May 4-21), Chris Tremain (April 6-23), Sam Whiteman (until August), Chris Lynn (T20s), Andrew Tye (T20s)
Somerset: Peter Siddle (until July), Cameron Bancroft (until May 7)
Surrey: Sean Abbott (until July), Dan Worrall (UK passport)
Sussex: Nathan McAndrew (until July), Steve Smith (May 4-21)
Warwickshire: Glenn Maxwell (T20s only)
Yorkshire: Mickey Edwards (UK passport)
News Source: https://www.cricket.com.au/news/marnus-labuschagne-off-spin-michael-neser-glamorgan-county-championship-wes-agar/2023-04-21