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India v Australia 2023

Matt Kuhnemann, who is the Australia spinner who could earn a shock debut in the Delhi Test?

Matt Kuhnemann could make his Test debut in Delhi, after replacing Mitchell Swepson in the Australia squad
by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

Matt Kuhnemann has been called up by Australia ahead of the second Test against India in Delhi, after Mitchell Swepson’s scheduled return for the birth of his first child. Here’s all you need to know about him.

Who is Matt Kuhnemann?

Hailing from Gold Coast, Kuhnemann has played four ODIs for Australia, alongside 13 first-class games, 28 List A matches and 36 T20s. Born in Brisbane in 1996, Kuhnemann made his way into the Queensland Under-17s in 2012/13 and graduated to the Australia Under-19s in the next two seasons, where he played alongside fellow future Australia cricketers Matt Renshaw and Jhye Richardson.

Entry into first-class cricket

Kuhnemann played his first List A game in 2017, for a Cricket Australia XI in the JLT One-Day Cup. His first T20 came only in 2019, for Brisbane Heat in the BBL, following handy performances for Queensland in the JLT Cup. Coach Daniel Vettori, himself a left-arm spinner, was impressed with what Kuhnemann could offer, citing the example of his impressive spell of 3-50 in a game against Western Australia, better remembered for D’Arcy Short’s record-breaking 257.

His first-class debut only came in 2021 for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield, playing under Usman Khawaja; his other teammates included Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Burns and Renshaw. His one wicket on debut was a caught-and-bowled of Tasmania skipper Tim Paine.

What do his stats look like?

So far, Kuhnemann has played 13 first-class games, picking up 35 wickets at 34.80 apiece, with three five-wicket hauls. Despite making it to the Australia Under-19s, Kuhnemann’s progress was stalled due to the presence of Mitchell Swepson in Queensland. He was offered a full contract in 2019, but it wasn’t until 2021 that he earned his maiden cap. Kuhnemann has himself said that he has a “good relationship” with Swepson and that he often gets tips from him in the nets.

Elsewhere, Kuhnemann has played 28 List A games, taking 43 wickets at 29.20, as well as 27 wickets in 36 T20s at 28.81, and an economy of 7.62.

Matt Kuhnemann: no stranger to shock call-ups

Last year, Kuhnemann had finalised an English league cricket stint for the off-season, looking to play for Shenley Village in the Hertfordshire League. Things changed quickly: he was called up for Australia A squad to tour Sri Lanka in July 2022. Further, he was summoned by the senior side midway through their ODI series, travelling from Hambantota to Kandy after an SOS call required him to replace the injured Ashton Agar in the main side.

He made his debut in the second ODI and picked up the wickets of Pathum Nissanka and Chamika Karunaratne. Kuhnemann went on to play four ODIs, all in that five-match ODI series, picking up six wickets at 31.81, the third most from either side as Australia lost 3-2.

Test debut beckons

Kuhnemann is now in line for a possible Test debut, after being asked to fly to Delhi from Melbourne where he just completed a Sheffield Shield game for the Bulls. Coach Andrew McDonald said that Kuhnemann had a “live chance” to play the next Test, with Australia looking to avenge their innings loss in Nagpur. Neither Swepson nor left-arm spinner Ashton Agar played in the first game, even as India’s spinners took 17 out of the 20 wickets to fall.

Kuhnemann has had his eyes peeled on the Test series, having watched “every day” of the Nagpur Test. Understandably taken aback by the call, he now flies to Delhi as a replacement for Swepson, a bowler he shadowed for years.

The quote

“I got a phone call yesterday morning when we were walking out for the warm-up, to my surprise,” Kuhnemann was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au. “I was pretty shocked and I was probably a little bit nowhere in the first session yesterday. But it was a pretty amazing feeling and it’s pretty cool to tell the boys as well at the warm-ups.

“I’ve just been such a fan of these series, they’re so good to watch. Todd Murphy was exceptional, and I watched how Jadeja bowled. I’m just really excited to be to get over there and be with the boys.”

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