The Ashes hopefuls out to impress in county campaigns

We take a look at which Australians are playing where this county season ahead of a huge six-Test tour of England

The county season gets underway tonight and there are several Aussie stars looking to impress in the early rounds to push their case for a spot in Australia's World Test Championship final and Ashes squads.

We've analysed the form of the 13 Australians heading to England for a County Championship stint and what's at stake for their chances of national selection.

Steve Smith (Sussex)

County Championship stats: Yet to play

Availability: Three matches (May)

What's at stake? Somewhat surprisingly, Steve Smith will make his County Championship debut when he turns out for Division 2 club Sussex against Worcestershire on May 4 – the first of his three-match stint ahead of the World Test Championship final and Ashes. There was much debate in English cricketing circles when Sussex announced the 33-year-old's recruitment around the merits of giving Australia's best batter a tune-up ahead of the Ashes, but Smith says he's also there to help contribute to a successful season and is "particularly looking forward to working with the younger players in the squad and … provide some guidance to them". The right-hander will arrive in Hove in May boasting a formidable first-class record in England – in 16 Tests he's hit 1727 runs at 59.55 with six centuries.

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Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan)

County Championship stats: M: 21 | Runs: 1719 | Ave: 52.09 | 100s: 6 | 50s: 9 | HS: 182

Availability: First six games

What's at stake? The tale of Marnus Labuschagne, his 2019 run-spree with Glamorgan and concussion substitution for Steve Smith at Lord's is now entrenched in Ashes folklore. An underrated part of the story is Labuschagne's loyalty to Glamorgan, and red-ball coach Matthew Maynard, which has seen the world's No.1 ranked Test batter continue to return to the Welsh county. Labuschagne has already signed on to return to Glamorgan next winter, but his involvement this year will be curtailed by Australia's presence in the World Test Championship final and subsequent Ashes tour. Still, Glamorgan have six County Championship fixtures to complete before the Aussie Test squad assembles in late May, including one at Headingley, the venue for the third Ashes Test. Labuschagne's 2021 and 2022 stints didn't reach the heights of his breakthrough 2019 season, but time in the middle against the Dukes ball, albeit in Division 2, is surely ideal preparation.

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Lance Morris (Northamptonshire)

County Championship stats: Yet to play

Availability: Three matches (May)

What's at stake? Australia's uncapped 150kph-plus tearaway heads to England for his maiden county stint with an Ashes squad berth firmly in his sights. Morris's inclusion in the Test squad for most of the Australian summer and the Border Gavaskar tour of India has him entrenched as one of the quicks next in line behind the big three alongside Scott Boland. The 25-year-old's return of 3-53 in the first innings of the Sheffield Shield final further underlined his status as one of the most fearsome bowlers in the world, and he is set to lock horns with WA teammate Cameron Bancroft in his first game for Northants when they take on Division 1 rivals Somerset from May 4-7.

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Cameron Bancroft (Somerset)

County Championship stats: M: 30 | R: 1786 | Ave: 36.45 | 100s: 3

Availability: First four matches

What's at stake? Since being dropped after the second Ashes Test in 2019, Cameron Bancroft has never been closer to an Australian recall than he is now. The 30-year-old opener was the standout batter in the 2022-23 Sheffield Shield season, finishing almost 300 runs clear of the next best (Daniel Drew – 656) with 945 at 59.06, including four centuries. The West Australian has the backing of state coach Adam Voges, who believes he should be "on the plane" to England, and with David Warner's Test future uncertain, early season runs for Division 1 outfit Somerset would require only a short bus trip up the M3 from Taunton to The Oval where the World Test Championship final is being held from July 7.

'Deserves a spot on the plane': Voges on Bancroft for Ashes


Michael Neser (Glamorgan)

County Championship stats: M: 14 | W: 60 | Ave: 21.95 | SR: 45.50

Availability: All season, pending international commitments

What's at stake? He might have been overlooked for the tour of India but Michael Neser has long been in Australia's planning for the Ashes. It would be a surprise if he was not included, having impressed as a tourist for the 2019 campaign. His strong performances over the past two seasons for Glamorgan have only added to his claims and he will have a final chance to impress in the coming months as he fulfils the second of a two-year deal with the Welsh club that narrowly missed promotion to Division 1 last year. Both Neser's Tests have come at Adelaide Oval, where the extra grass and zip under lights have aided his skilful seam bowling. The right-armer will be hoping English pitches will do likewise this northern summer.

Peter Handscomb (Leicestershire)

County Championship stats: M: 30 | R: 1417 | Ave: 30.15 | 100s: 1

Availability: April and May

What's at stake? Having had a standout tour of India on treacherous batting surfaces, Peter Handscomb must now stake his claim for a Test middle-order berth all over again. The British passport-holder will turn out for Division 2 side Leicestershire, his fifth county, after previously representing Gloucestershire, Yorkshire, Durham, and then Middlesex for the past two seasons as captain. He will be eager to improve on his return of 447 runs at 22.35 in 21 innings, only twice passing fifty, for the Lord's-based club. The likely return of Travis Head from the opening position back to No.5 will make it difficult for Handscomb to hold his Test spot if the rest of the incumbents are fit, with the Victorian needing to show he can be as proficient against pace as he is against spin.

Marcus Harris (Gloucestershire)

County Championship stats: M: 17 | R: 1,381 | Ave: 47.62 | 100s: 6

Availability: All season, pending international commitments

What's at stake? One of the prime contenders to succeed David Warner as Australia's next long-term Test opener, Marcus Harris could seize an Ashes spot if he can replicate his county form from the last two seasons. After hitting three tons apiece in 2021 (for Leicestershire) and 2022 (Gloucestershire), the left-hander returns to Bristol to play in the second division of the County Championship with a point to prove. Harris spent the entire home Test summer as Australia's reserve batter, only to be pipped by Matthew Renshaw in Sydney in January before being overlooked entirely for the India tour. His appetite for runs in the UK has been impressive; of his six Championship tons, four have been scores of more than 125.

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Peter Siddle (Somerset)

County Championship stats: M: 44 | W: 173 | Ave: 22.88 | SR: 48.81

Availability: First 11 games (until end of July)

What's at stake? The most experienced campaigner of this year's Australian cohort, the evergreen quick is heading back to England for his sixth county season. Siddle was part of Somerset's 2022 campaign and is no doubt central to their Division 1 and T20 Blast plans this year. Having retired from international cricket in 2019, there's no Ashes lure for the 38-year-old right-armer, with the veteran quick saying he was thrilled to return to a "great club with great people". When he arrives back in Australia in August, Siddle will be headed to Victoria as he returns to his home state following three summers with Tasmania.

Matthew Kuhnemann (Durham)

County Championship stats: Yet to play

Availability: All season

What's at stake? A remarkable turn from fill-in state spinner to key Test bowler in the high-pressure India series has Australian selectors suddenly looking at Matthew Kuhnemann in a different light. After taking a maiden five-for in the second Test in Indore, Kuhnemann has been called up by Division 2 outfit Durham after their initial signing, fellow breakout spin star Todd Murphy, opted to sit out the opening rounds. The UK's northernmost cricket county is not typically a place where left-arm orthodox bowlers thrive, particularly in the cold early-season months. But it is a chance for Kuhnemann to show he can be effective on far less helpful pitches than what he bowled on in the subcontinent and that he should remain in the Test frame should anything happen to Nathan Lyon or Murphy.

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Sean Abbott (Surrey)

County Championship stats: Yet to play

Availability: 10 matches (April-July)

What's at stake? With nine ODIs under his belt in the past year, the 31-year-old allrounder is well and truly in selectors thoughts for this year's 50-over World Cup in India. While not quite on the red-ball radar yet – despite career first-class averages of 32 with the ball and 22 with the bat – Abbott stint with reigning Division 1 champions Surrey means he could be in the right place at the right time should Australia require injury cover during the Ashes.

Sam Whiteman (Northamptonshire)

County Championship stats: Yet to play

Availability: April-August

What's at stake? The 2022-23 Sheffield Shield winning skipper joins Northants for the majority of their 2023 Division 1 campaign and will fulfill a lifelong ambition to play first-class cricket in the UK. He will link up with WA teammate Lance Morris for three games in May when he replaces Chris Tremain, with the experienced Blues quick to play the county's opening three fixtures of the season. It was an up and down Shield season for Whiteman – he made a big hundred (193) against South Australia in November but also equalled the record for the most ducks (7) in a season – and he'll be hoping to find greater consistency in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Nathan McAndrew (Sussex)

County Championship stats: M: 7 | W: 20 | Ave: 37.85 | SR: 61.0 | Runs: 278 | Ave: 34.75 | HS: 63

Availability: First 10 games (until July)

What's at stake? An Australia A berth in Sri Lanka last winter showed Nathan McAndrew is in Australian selectors' thoughts, and with that coming after an impressive seven-game stint with Warwickshire in his first taste of the County Championship, there's plenty of upside to a return this winter. As well as his 20 wickets for Warwickshire, the 29-year-old late-blooming allrounder averaged 34.75 with the bat and his highest score of 63 was one of two half-centuries. That proved more than enough for Sussex head coach Paul Fabrace, who was at Warwickshire last season, to get back the NSW-born South Australian Redback. While a dream Ashes call-up this winter would seem highly unlikely unless a raft of injuries strike the Australian ranks, McAndrew can both continue his development in Division 2 and push himself further into selectors' minds with another solid season.

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Chris Tremain (Northamptonshire)

County Championship stats: Yet to play

Availability: First three games

What's at stake? Veteran seamer Chris Tremain said county cricket was a "bucket-list thing for me" so the 31-year-old will be able to tick off that milestone when he suits up for Northamptonshire for their Division 1 fixtures against Kent, Hampshire and Middlesex this month. Coming off the back of a solid year with NSW – 20 wickets at 29.95 – he also played for the CA XI in a tour match against the touring South Africans last summer alongside Northants’ key overseas signing, Sam Whiteman, which appears to have paved the way for the county stint when Northants needed an experienced seamer. With a wealth of experience in Australia under his belt, Tremain's only first-class experience in England amounts to a solitary tour match when he was included in an Australia A squad ahead of the 2019 campaign.

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: Kane Richardson (T20s)

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)

Yorkshire: Mickey Edwards (UK passport)