England humiliated but pride for Letchworth as former player stars on debut for Australia
- Credit: JASON O'BRIEN/PA
A former Letchworth cricket player swapped one baggy green cap for another when he made his test debut for Australia in another Ashes stuffing for England.
And while it may have been tough viewing for England fans, the sight of Michael Neser striding out in the second test in Adelaide did at least warm the hearts of those at Whitethorn Lane.
Neser received his baggy green from Australian great Glenn McGrath which he can now hang proudly alongside his other baggy green from his spell at Letchworth as an overseas player in 2009, a time when he was just a fresh-faced teenager.
The link came from Letchworth fast-bowling stalwart Ed Morse who played with him at the Gold Coast Dolphins in Brisbane grade cricket in the previous winter.
Neser then came to Letchworth for the 2009 summer, aged 19, for a season in the Home Counties Premier League.
Morse remembers the summer fondly and was proud to see his old teammate break into the Australian side.
He said: “It was great to see him make his debut the other day and I’m very happy that he’s got his baggy green. He’s a really lovely guy who deserves everything he gets.
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"He had a back injury during his time at Letchworth which restricted his bowling but he was very useful with the bat even then and a quality catcher at second slip which helped me out plenty of times with the new ball.”
Playing mostly as a batsman as he recovered from a stress fracture, he started in stunning fashion scoring 50 on debut against Bishop’s Stortford and 107 against rivals Ickleford the next day.
His most memorable performance came at Sawbridgeworth though where he demolished the home attack with a blistering 41 not out from just 17 balls, adding 65 in the final three overs of the innings with skipper Steve March, before picking up a match-winning 4-20 bowling off spin.
A less enjoyable moment for Neser came when he went to collect a ball from the boundary at Hemel Hempstead and didn’t realise what stinging nettles were.
After emerging with red raw arms the nickname ‘Stinger’ stuck for the rest of the summer.
He signed his first contract with Queensland upon returning to Australia that winter and made his first class debut against Western Australia the following year.
From there he has gone onto play more than 70 first class games as well as represent Brisbane Heat and Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash and Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.
His one-day international debut came in England in June 2018 when he dismissed Alex Hales and Moeen Ali but he had to wait another three years before finally receiving a Test cap having been in the squad a number of times.
Neser’s talent with the bat showed in the second test as he scored 35 from just 24 balls in Australia’s total of 473-9.
With the ball, he picked up the wicket of England opener Haseeb Hameed in his very first over and dismissed Dawid Malan in the second innings as he helped Australia to a 275-run victory.