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Josh Hazlewood injury gifts Dukes dynamo Michael Neser a shot at the Ashes


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UNCAPPED all-rounder Michael Neser was on Monday morning settling into the off-season as another Australia tour left without him, despite glittering domestic form.

Now not only does he have the chance to earn his international spurs during a one-day tour of England, but he also has a clear window to propel himself to Ashes and World Cup selections in the UK next year.

A last-minute decision to rule out injured paceman Josh Hazlewood saw Neser hurriedly bundled into the squad on Monday afternoon and sent on his way to the UK.

The squad still left without him, but only because his inclusion came so late that he was unable to make the flight.

“It caught me off guard a little bit,” Neser told reporters in Brisbane before flying to England.

“I’m looking forward to going over. Mum is through the roof, she was on the phone to me last night in tears.”

The South African-born 28-year-old is known as a swing specialist, and has become something of a Dukes dynamo for Queensland since the British manufactured ball was introduced to the Sheffield Shield during the 2017/18 season.

Dukes replaced the iconic Kookaburra red ball from round six, as concerns about Australia’s performances with the former grew.

The concerns were highlighted by an Ashes winless streak on British soil, where the ball behaves differently – namely by swinging more than the Australian Kookaburra.

By introducing the Dukes to first-class cricket, players have been able to build their experience with the ball to be better prepared to play in the UK.

Neser adapted to the ball better than most, finishing the Shield season with the second highest wicket tally: 39 at 21.84.

His form with the British leather in hand – combined with Australia’s inferiority with it at English grounds since 2001 – has now handed him the opportunity of his career.

“The Dukes balls definitely helped my chances of getting selected for Australia,” Neser said.

He regularly produced unplayable deliveries with the ball in a standout Shield season for Queensland, who he guided to an eighth first-class title.

Neser also took home his second-consecutive Ian Healy Trophy after being voted the Queensland Bull’s best player, and won the Big Bash League with Adelaide Strikers.

The stakes are now high for Neser, who should delight in English conditions as he bids to make his international debut in the absence of injured stars Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.

When asked if he now has an eye on playing Test cricket for Australia, he said: “This tour is the first priority. All my focus is on white-ball cricket at the moment.

“But my dream is still to play Test cricket.”

England host both the World Cup and Ashes next year, with both events already in the back of new coach Justin Langer’s mind.

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