Sean Abbott has kick-started his Ashes audition with a six-wicket haul for New South Wales against Victoria on day one of their Sheffield Shield clash in Sydney.
- Abbott claimed 6-38 against Victoria
- Labuschagne made 136, batting at number three for Queensland
- Queensland skipper Usman Khawaja is 63 not out at stumps on day one against Tasmania
Test batter Marnus Labuschagne also impressed ahead of the men’s Ashes series beginning in December, with a century for Queensland in its match against Tasmania in Townsville.
Abbott — who was a member of Australia’s extended Test squad in the 2020–21 series against India — claimed 6-38, as Victoria crumbled to be all out for 199.
New South Wales will resume its first innings on 2-43 on Thursday, having lost openers Daniel Hughes (8) and Matthew Gilkes (25) in an 18-over burst after the change of innings.
Abbott’s first victim was incumbent Test opener Marcus Harris, who fell for 9 in the sixth over when he feathered an edge to New South Wales wicketkeeper Peter Nevill.
He returned to the bowling attack late in the morning session, dismissing former Test batsman Peter Handscomb (15) and opener James Seymour (34) in the shadows of lunch.
Matt Short (2) was Abbott’s fourth dismissal, while the right-arm quick celebrated the fifth five-wicket haul of his Shield career with the removal of Scott Boland (5).
Nic Maddinson was the only Victorian batter to trouble New South Wales, with an innings of 87, but he was Abbott’s sixth wicket when he was caught by debutant Tanveer Sangha.
The teenage Sangha enjoyed a productive first-class debut, with his leg spin earning the figures of 3-44.
Test spinner Nathan Lyon took 1-59.
Abbott will find it hard to dislodge Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc from Australia’s first-choice Test attack.
But there are several tight turnarounds during a five-Test series squeezed into six weeks, ensuring rotation will be on the radar of national selectors.
“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking about [Ashes selection],” Abbott said.
“I was in the last couple of Test squads.
“But we’ve only ever really got what’s in front of us … there’s plenty of wickets still to take.”
Labuschagne, Khawaja star for Qld
Marnus Labuschagne posted his 19th first-class century and Usman Khawaja continued his push for an Ashes call-up to put Queensland in the box seat against Tasmania.
Queensland reached stumps on day one on 3-311, with Labuschagne (136), Joe Burns (79) and Khawaja (63 not out) helping the home side dominate with the bat.
Labuschagne had logged scores of 32, 8 and 45 in Queensland’s first two Shield matches this season, while he was out for 6 in a one-day cup fixture against South Australia.
Those scores represented a rare down patch for a player who averages 60.8 in the Test arena, but Labuschagne put those recent struggles behind him against Tasmania in a knock that featured 15 fours and a six.
Khawaja scored 174 against South Australia earlier this month and he will be aiming to post another big score to boost his credentials for an Ashes call-up.
The 34-year-old has not played a Test since 2019.
Burns’s half-century ensures he will also remain on the radar of national selectors as the race for spots in Australia’s Ashes squad heats up ahead of the opening Test at the Gabba beginning on December 8.
Meanwhile, bad light stopped play on day one of the Shield match between Western Australia and South Australia at the WACA ground in Perth.
Western Australia was 2-42 when stumps were called, in response to South Australia’s paltry first-innings total of 128.
Cameron Green (17 not out) and Cameron Bancroft (13 not out) will resume at the crease for the home side on day two.
Jhye Richardson (3-22) and Lance Morris (3-25) were the best of the Western Australian bowlers.
Jake Carder top-scored for South Australia with 37.