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The Ashes: Michael Neser making a major case for inclusion

Australia have a number of top-quality pace options at their disposal for their busy summer in England, with Michael Neser currently just on the outside looking in.

However, the vastly experienced Queensland seamer has been doing all he can to continue giving the selectors a nudge by impressing with both bat and ball for Glamorgan.

Both he and Sean Abbott have been called up to train with the Baggy Greens ahead of their World Test Championship final against India, with captain Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Scott Boland the fast bowlers included in the 15-man squad for the Rose Bowl showdown.

A 17-man squad is in place for the first two Ashes Tests, but, with the whole five-match series condensed into around six weeks, it is all but certain that both sides will need to look at back-ups at some point along the way.

WhatEngland v Australia, 2023 Ashes series
WhereEdgbaston, Lord's, Headingley, Old Trafford, The Oval
WhenFriday 16th June - Monday 31st July 2023
How to watchChannel 9
Odds (outright)England 2.10, Draw 7.00, Australia 2.25

Hazlewood fitness remains in question

Australia have Hazlewood available at this current moment, but he admits that he is unlikely to be able to play in all of the Ashes clashes as he completes his recovery from a side injury.

Hazlewood has featured in just four of Australia's last 19 Tests and sat out the whole of the four-match series with India in February and March due to an Achilles problem, 

He has also not played in back-to-back first-class games since early 2021 and is certain that cover will be needed as the summer progresses.

Hazlewood told reporters: "Pat is perhaps looking at all six potentially, depending how much we bowl, so you play it by ear a little bit. It is such a dense schedule."

That is a massive hint that both Neser and Abbott will be afforded opportunities, with the former having played just two Test matches to date.

Both of those came at the Adelaide Oval against England in December 2021, and against the West Indies almost exactly a year later.

Neser has also made the most of his stint in the County Championship with Glamorgan to push his claims, taking 19 wickets in five appearances at an average of 25.63 to show his quality with the ball.

Neser offers double option

An added factor in Neser being considered as something of a certainty to be involved in the Ashes at some stage is his excellent recent form with the bat.

With lower-order runs often a key factor in Ashes showdowns, Neser has shown that he could be a more than useful option coming in at seven or more likely eight for the tourists, who are 1.72 to retain the Ashes.

Neser averages 26.78 in his first-class career to date and has three centuries to his name, while his spell with Glamorgan saw him rack up 311 runs in just six innings at an average of 51.83.

Those six innings included knocks of 90 against Leicestershire and 86 against Worcestershire, before Neser made 123 against Sussex in his final outing - with those final opponents including Australia colleague Steve Smith among their ranks.

That form with the willow becomes more relevant when you factor in that all-rounder Cameron Green has been troubled by a shoulder problem in recent times, while it has to be remembered that Abbott is also a more than useful batter to have in the lower middle-order.

With everything considered, it seems highly likely that Neser will be called upon at some point in the summer, evening if he just missed out on selection for the India match and the first two Ashes clashes.

Even if injuries do not bite, the workload on the horizon means that both Australia and England will have to mix things up as the series progresses to try and get their freshest pacemen on the field of play.

That means Neser will need to be ready to make the most of any opportunity which comes his way, with Australia 17.00 to edge a 2-1 Ashes series victory.

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