AB de Villiers is a genius. At the age of 37, he is proving that he still has a lot to give to cricket.
With the County Championship starting on 8 April, we look at the Aussies who would have benefitted from the experience – had they made themselves available.
It feels like an eternity since we heard the name – who would’ve thought it was four years ago when he finished a productive Test series against India, and was essentially a lock to open alongside David Warner. This season, he’s been dropped to Queensland’s middle order after a lean run at the top.
It’s not that he’s been playing badly (he averages 73, for goodness’ sake), but the number five spot just isn’t for him. He is and always will be an opener, and with the Street-Burns combo working for Queensland, a stint in England could have given him the experience and confidence he so desperately needs.
At 24, he should still be on the selection radar, with nobody yet to make a serious claim for the opening spot in the Australian side.
People have been saying that he’s Australia’s future gloveman, but if not now, when? Carey is 29, and has been putting in the work and performances to secure a berth in the Test XI. Having been denied serious time at the crease in first-class cricket due to white ball and Test squad commitments, he needs a few games to ensure the selectors have no doubts.
England would be a good place to hone his skills with the bat and gloves, put a few big scores on the board and come back to Australia ready to make a Test debut. Even if the left hander has to wait, County Cricket would have been a useful stepping stone, especially after being snubbed at the IPL auction.
While Green can consider his short-term Test spot secure, with an outstanding Shield campaign capping off a solid maiden international series, he needs as much cricket as possible to develop into the player he is capable of becoming.
The lanky Western Australian is an aesthetic gem, with both his booming drives and his signature shot, the wristy cut, showing signs of brilliance.
He has the skills to both attack and defend, and the County stage would have been a perfect arena to practice against different attacks on swinging pitches, make refinements to his technique and gain experience abroad. Plus, he can also work on his bowling, which has potential to be really useful.
More popularly known as “victim of X-Factor abuse by the Brisbane Heat”, the young Queensland quick used the relative popularity of the Big Bash League to put his outswingers on display.
In the longer forms, he has also show what he can do, with match figures of 7-96 against Tasmania and 14 wickets in four games this season. His main problem is consistency, marring a good season’s stats by going wicketless in his most recent outing.
With a few games in England, he could’ve pinpointed the areas that need work and gained valuable experience. At 24, he could very well be looked at as a replacement for a line and length bowler like Hazlewood, but only if he puts in the hard yards now.
With a subcontinent-heavy 2022 coming up, Nathan Lyon needs a reliable partner. The second best spinner in Australia by a country mile, he is the fourth highest Shield wicket taker this season having played only three games. The England pitches offer some variety, allowing Swepson to develop his craft.
If he can thrive there, a Test debut has to be on the cards. He has several good years ahead of him, and the County Championship would’ve been the wake-up call the selectors needed.
He wouldn’t have any trouble being signed, being one of a select few that would be available for County cricket while having dismissed Virat Kohli.