Australia faced a narrow three-wicket defeat against England in the third Test of the five-match Ashes 2023 series. However, the Aussie side still leads the leg by 2-1 and are just one win away from retaining the prestigious Ashes trophy.
England star seamer Mark Wood played a significant role in helping England stay alive in the contest by bagging a fifer in the first innings and claiming three wickets in the second innings of the Headingley Test. Apart from a sensational bowling performance, Wood also contributed valuable 24 and 16 runs with the bat in the English team’s victory.
The great show by the England pacer has now fuelled up the debate of Australia’s all-rounder Michael Neser being included in the Aussie side’s playing XI for the fourth Test. Many believe that Neser can play the role of Wood for Australia with his bowling and that he can also contribute with the bat in the tail.
It is worth mentioning that, Neser is currently in red-hot form and recently hammered an unbeaten 176 for Glamorgan against Leicestershire in the County Division 2 match. The exploit by the Aussie cricketer came as his second consecutive century in the tournament. Meanwhile, he has impressed with his bowling as well, taking 19 wickets at an average of 25.63.
Although many backed Neser’s selection in the Australian line-up for the fourth Ashes 2023 Test, former Aussie cricketer Ian Healy believes that Josh Hazlewood is a better option than Neser for the Manchester Test. Nevertheless, he reckoned Neser could come in for the fifth and final game. Healy further lauded Neser for his skills and highlighted how the 33-year-old all-rounder can stabilize Australian batting.
“I think he might be a fifth Test (option) if there’s a breakdown in the fourth. I think (Josh) Hazlewood will go in and probably deserves to go in now that he’s back on the field for Boland. If something happens then or someone needs a rest, I think he (Neser) will probably leapfrog Boland back into the fifth Test,” Healy was quoted as saying SENQ Breakfast.
“It’s good to be in good form. It means they’d have a short tail. They (Neser, Starc and Cummins) are good batsmen, a long tail is four batsmen that don’t bat that well. I’m not sure whether they (the current tail) enjoy batting against Mark Wood. It can be (hard), so we might need some batting,” he added.