County wrap: How the Aussies fared in the seventh round

Australia's county contingent made the most of good batting conditions in the final fixture before the T20 Blast with three centuries, while Steve Smith also left his mark on the competition with 89

Steve Smith (Sussex)

Score: 89

Figures: 2-55

Season to date: 122 runs at 40.66

The Australian No.4 didn't disappoint in his highly-anticipated showdown with Marnus Labuschagne, leaving his mark on the county competition with a sterling 89 in what would turn out to be the third and final innings of his three-match stint for Sussex. Smith arrived at the crease on day one with his side having lost 3-7 in pursuit of Glamorgan's paltry first innings of 123, forming crucial partnerships of 48 with Tom Haines and 143 with James Coles to help lift Sussex to 481. His knock ended 11 runs short of a maiden county ton, pinned lbw for the third straight time before Labuschagne and Michael Neser dug in to grind out a draw for Glamorgan. Smith finished his three-match stint with 122 runs at 40.66, with rain hampering the Australian's opportunities to spend time in the middle and Sussex's prospects of forcing results as all three games ended in a stalemate.

Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan)

Scores: 1, 138

Figures: 0-49, 0-1

Season to date: 502 runs at 71.71, five wickets at 43.40

Not to be outdone by his Aussie teammate, Labuschagne answered Smith's 89 with his second century of the county season to put Glamorgan on a path to safety after being bundled out for 123 in the first innings. Labuschagne fell lbw to Ashes rival Ollie Robinson on day one on the first ball he faced from the England quick. But the world's No.1 ranked Test batter had his measure in the second innings as Glamorgan piled on 737 with Robinson spotted on crutches on day four following an injury scare with his troublesome left ankle. After debuting his off-spinners earlier in the season, the Queenslander also whipped out his medium pace for the sole over of Sussex's second innings before the match was declared a draw. Labuschagne's tally of 502 runs in just five matches has taken him to third in the competition standings at the halfway mark of the division two season, but more importantly he heads into next month's World Test Championship Final and Ashes series in sublime touch.

Michael Neser (Glamorgan)

Figures: 3-81

Scores: 2, 123

Season to date: 19 wickets at 25.63, 311 runs at 51.83

Neser again proved an all-round asset as he continued to put his name up in lights for a late inclusion in Australia's Ashes squad. Fresh off the third first-class century of his career (and first outside Australia), the Queenslander is set to join the Test squad training camp alongside NSW and Surrey allrounder Sean Abbott ahead of the WTC Final against India. Last season's Marsh Sheffield Shield player of the year is possibly the County Championship's most in-form player with a century and two half-centuries placing him among the season's top 20 run-scorers in division two, while his three wickets – which included India No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara for a duck – maintained his place in the competition's top 10 wicket-takers for 2023.

Marcus Harris (Gloucestershire)

Scores: 52, 122no

Season to date: 457 runs at 57.12

Gloucestershire sunk to their first loss of 2023 but it was through no fault of Harris, who carried his bat in the second innings for his second century of the season as his side were bowled out 126 runs short against league-leaders Durham. After a frustrating opening six matches that resulted in four weather-affected draws and one match abandoned without a ball bowled due to a wet outfield, Harris got his chance to spend some quality time in the middle, doing all he could to push his case for a starting spot in the Ashes next month.

Sean Abbott (Surrey)

Figures: 0-53, 2-17

Score: 78

Season to date: 16 wickets at 27.81, 264 runs at 52.80

Abbott did his Ashes chances no harm with another solid all-round performance to help reigning champions Surrey strengthen their position at the top of division one with a 10-wicket demolition of Kent. While he proved a touch expensive in the first innings, conceding 53 runs from 10 wicketless overs, he responded first with the bat to help push his side's lead towards 100 before backing it up with a respectable 2-17 from seven with the ball. It was Abbott's second half-century of the season to go with a pair of 40s, with the NSW allrounder to join Australia's preparations full of confidence to chase a "dream" Test debut.

Wes Agar (Kent)

Figures: 3-76, 0-15

Scores: 31, 0

Season to date: 12 wickets at 28.41

Agar can hold his head high following Kent's thrashing at the hands of division one leaders Surrey, with crucial lower order runs and three wickets keeping his side in the contest in the first innings. The South Australian claimed the final three wickets of Surrey's first innings – the first a searing bouncer that ballooned off Tom Lawes's bat to first slip, the second another rising delivery that countryman Abbott edged behind and with the third he knocked former Redbacks teammate Daniel Worrall's leg stump out of the ground. It's been an impressive four-game spell for Agar at Kent – who is currently the club's leading wicket-taker in 2023 – but is set to be replaced by Indian seamer Arshdeep Singh following the Indian Premier League.

Peter Handscomb (Leicestershire)

Scores: 0, 26

Season to date: 421 runs at 46.77

Despite repeating his scores from his two knocks in the previous round, Handscomb sits alongside Labuschagne and Harris as the Australians among the top 10 run-scorers in division two at the halfway point of the 2023 season. It completes a short but successful stint for the Victorian skipper at his fifth county club as he is set to be replaced by Indian batter Ajinkya Rahane following the WTC Final. Handscomb followed his century on debut for the Foxes with three half-centuries in his six matches for the club, which included 95 in the first innings of their clash with Labuschagne and Neser's Glamorgan. With Harris and Matthew Renshaw already in the Ashes touring party, the Test incumbent is a little way off holding his place, but he looms as the next man in should Australia require batting reinforcements during a six-Test northern summer.

Peter Siddle (Somerset)

Figures: 0-22, 3-57

Season to date: 16 wickets at 24.12

Wicketless for the first time this county season, the veteran seamer responded with three of the highest calibre in the second innings to put Somerset on a path towards an innings victory at Lord's. Siddle claimed the first three wickets of the Middlesex's second dig, taking his season tally to 16. First to fall was Australian-born Sam Robson who feathered a delivery through to wicketkeeper Steven Davies before Perth Scorchers recruit Stephen Eskinazi and top-scorer Mark Stoneman were beaten all ends up by balls that nipped back and cannoned into the top of their off stump. Siddle will also feature in Somerset's T20 Blast campaign that gets underway against Hampshire on Thursday morning Australian time.

Sam Whiteman (Northamptonshire)

Scores: 0, 45

Season to date: 324 runs at 32.40

It was another tough outing for Whiteman's Northants who succumbed to a crushing innings defeat to Hampshire after being rolled for 56 in their first innings, where the West Australian was dismissed for a 13-ball duck. He made a promising start in the second innings, making his way to 45 with six boundaries before he was deceived through the gate by former England Test spinner Liam Dawson. The left-hander won't feature for the Steelbacks in their Blast campaign – with WA teammate Andrew Tye and Adelaide Strikers star Chris Lynn having signed for the T20 season – as Whiteman enjoys a month-long break until their next four-day match on June 25.

Jordan Buckingham (Northamptonshire)

Figures: 1-82

Season to date: Three wickets at 85.33

Buckingham's three-game stint at Northants comes to an end with just the three wickets to his name, albeit in a difficult run of matches for the club where they were twice beaten by an innings and once batted out a rain-affected draw meaning the South Australian only had the chance to bowl once in each match. Regardless, he heads home to Adelaide with a priceless experience as the Redbacks look to build on their positive 2022-23 campaign next summer.

Nathan McAndrew (Sussex)

Did not play

Season to date: 15 wickets at 20.33, 118 runs at 20.66 

Nathan McAndrew's hot start to the English summer, which included five-wicket hauls against both Durham and Gloucestershire, came to an abrupt halt when Sussex welcomed the arrival of fellow Australian Steve Smith. With the County Championship rules restricting each side to a maximum of two internationals, McAndrew has had to take a back seat to Smith and India star Cheteshwar Pujara. However, McAndrew's stay with Sussex will resume into July when Smith links up with the Test side for the Ashes. 

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: Chris Tremain (April 6-23), Jordan Buckingham (May 1-21), 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)