Tasmania 250 and 3 for 86 trail Queensland 529 (Labuschagne 167, Neser 121, Peirson 62, Street 54) by 193 runs
Whether Michael Neser ever earns the Test cap that he surely deserves will probably be less about what he does and more about whether injuries or loss of form afflict those ahead of him. However, he can’t do much more than the last three days against Tasmania, where he followed his 5 for 32 with a maiden first-class century as Queensland pushed for victory.
It was the first time since Mitchell Johnson in 2010 that a Sheffield Shield player had taken a five-wicket haul and score a hundred in the same game – and extraordinarily it would be followed an hour later by Ashton Agar in the game on the next-door ground.
Neser was first included in a Test squad for the trip to the UAE to face Pakistan in 2018 then was part of the 2019 Ashes party before being ever-present in squads last summer against Pakistan and New Zealand yet he still waits for that debut with Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson in the incumbents.
If that changes this summer against India remains to be seen, but more performances like this will provide food for thought for the selectors – and not just for his strongest suit with the ball. A first-class batting average of 24 with 11 fifties (and a List A high score of 122 off 81 balls in 2017) before today showed that he was more than useful – he has a technique and the time to play the ball comparable with top-order players – his century against Tasmania was an innings full of command and control.
Neser’s innings started in the final over of the second day and he was soon into his stride on the third morning before Jimmy Peirson became the dominant partner in a seventh-wicket stand of 86 which knocked the stuffing out of Tasmania before ending when Piersen was caught low down in the gully.
Mark Steketee (23) provided good support in a stand of 58 but when Neser was joined by No. 11 Mitchell Swepson he was on 88. A boundary off Riley Meredith took him into the 90s then Swepson survived an over from the part-time left-arm seam of Jake Doran to allow Neser a dip at the century.
He did not waste any time, swatting consecutive short deliveries from Meredith over midwicket, the second greeted with a loft of the arms and the bat as he reached his hundred from 156 balls comfortably eclipsing his previous first-class best of 77. There was further merriment until he finally slogged one in the air against Beau Webster.
Neser could not add to his wicket tally during the final session, but Queensland chipped away at the Tasmania top order. Alex Doolan edged a drive to slip, Charlie Wakim played over a full delivery from Swepson – who bowled an impressive 11-over spell for 15 runs – and Ben McDermott edged behind as they stumbled to 3 for 60.