Kuhnemann signs on with Tasmania to spark Test bid

Australia-capped spinner joins fellow Queenslander Will Prestwidge as new additions to Tasmania's list for 2024-25

Australia-capped spinner Matthew Kuhnemann has signed with Tasmania in a bid for greater red-ball opportunities with another Test tour to the subcontinent on the horizon next summer.

Young quick Will Prestwidge also joins the left-arm finger spinner for the move south with Tasmania today confirming the pair of new signings from Queensland for the 2024-25 season.

Kuhnemann had been linked with a move to the Tigers for several months after he didn't feature in Queensland's Marsh Sheffield Shield team at all last season as the Bulls finished bottom of the standings for the first time in 16 years.

The 27-year-old's last appearance at first-class level came for Australia A against New Zealand A last September, with the left-arm orthodox spinner playing three Tests against India only six months prior – Australia's most recent Test campaign in the subcontinent.

But Queensland's preference for the leg-spin of fellow Test-representative Mitchell Swepson meant Kuhnemann was restricted to just seven List A appearances for the Bulls last summer.

His only red-ball appearance for Queensland during the 2023-24 summer was in the Second XI in February where he took 6-103 in the second innings against Victoria.

"I'm very grateful to be given the opportunity from Tasmania to join their talented squad," Kuhnemann said in a statement.

"I'm excited to get down there, challenge myself, and help contribute to winning games and competitions for Tasmania."

Just over a year ago, Kuhnemann was parachuted in from a Sheffield Shield match at the MCG to debut for Australia in the second Test against India in Delhi in February last year.

Kuhnemann after being presented his Baggy Green cap on Test debut in Delhi // Getty

He replaced Swepson in Australia's squad when the leg-spinner returned home for the birth of his first child.

Kuhnemann opened the bowling in both innings on Test debut, then claimed 5-16 in his second Test to help Australia defeat India in Indore, maintaining his place for the rest of the series despite the Swepson's return with selectors preferencing the control of finger spin compared to leg-breaks.

From there, Kuhnemann replaced Todd Murphy at Durham for the 2023 county season where he impressed with 12 wickets in his opening two matches before a back injury in his third ruled him out of the remaining matches.

Kuhnemann reflects on 'crazy' international debut

But despite his success for Queensland and the Brisbane Heat in KFC BBL|13 with the white ball, he couldn't crack the Shield side with Swepson also enjoying his best first-class campaign (30 at 32.06) in three years.

Kuhnemann remains under contract at the Heat for another two seasons after helping them to their second men's Big Bash title last summer as their most economical bowler (economy rate 6.56) along with 10 wickets.

The move to Tasmania will see him compete with Jarrod Freeman for a spot in the four-day side after the off-spinner helped the Tigers to a Shield final appearance in 2023-24 with a consistent 18-wicket campaign.

Kuhnemann will no doubt be hoping strong performances with the red ball in the first half of next summer will put him in the frame for a spot in Australia's squad for their Test tour of Sri Lanka in February with a three-pronged spin attack again on the cards in favourable conditions.

Kuhnemann played 12 first-class games for Queensland for a return of 33 wickets // Getty

Prestwidge, meanwhile, earned his maiden Bulls contract ahead of the 2021-22 season but couldn't crack a strong Queensland pace attack boasting Michael Neser, Mark Steketee, Xavier Bartlett and Gurinder Sandhu across his three years on the rookie list.

The Bulls have added further depth to their pace battery in recent weeks with Australia Under-19 World Cup-winning quicks Callum Vidler and Tom Straker joining for next season, which would have further limited opportunities for Prestwidge.

The 22-year-old right-armer played two Marsh One-Day Cup games for the Bulls in three summers, as well as three appearances for the Heat, where he remains under contract for next season.

Prestwidge bowls on List A debut for Queensland in February 2022 // Getty

Tasmania also have a strong pace attack led by internationally capped quicks Nathan Ellis, Riley Meredith and Billy Stanlake, as well as seamer Gabe Bell who claimed 42 wickets at 19.90 last summer in a career-best Shield season.

But they also showed a willingness to blood new talent under the tutelage of renowned bowling coach Rob Cassell throughout their resurgence up the Shield standings in 2023-24 to qualify for the final, with Iain Carlisle, Lawrence Neil-Smith, Brad Hope, Mitch Owen and Kieron Elliott all impressing.

"Will is a player that we believe can develop his talent and raw pace in Tasmania," said Salliann Beams, Cricket Tasmania high-performance general manager.

"We have seen many pace bowlers move to Tasmania and have great success on Blundstone Arena wickets."

She said Kuhnemann – who also played four one-day internationals in Sri Lanka in 2022 – was an important addition to the Tigers list.

"His left-arm orthodox bowling craft will provide us with a different option to our bowling line-up, and someone who has had success for Australia, and on a national stage in the BBL," Beams said.

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