Harris jives in the big dance again | cricket.com.au

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Harris jives in the big dance again

Opener's century puts Victoria into the box seat after first day of Sheffield Shield final in Alice Springs

Having made a hundred against Victoria in a Sheffield Shield final Marcus Harris now has one for them after the opener enhanced his reputation as a big-game player on the opening day of the competition decider.

Harris made South Australia wilt in the sweltering Alice Springs heat with a fortunate, but potentially match-defining, 120 in the final match of his first season with the Bushrangers.

The dashing left-hander scored at a lively pace, cashing in when the West End Redbacks quicks strayed onto his pads with a number of well-timed flicks on a sluggish Traeger Park pitch, and attacking the slow bowlers with assurance.

Quick Single: Day one match report

Harris was particularly brutal on leg-spinner Adam Zampa, hitting him for two towering sixes and not allowing him to settle as he scored at nearly a run-a-ball off South Australia's sole specialist slow bowler.

After getting dropped on 54 and 59, the Perth-born batter made the Redbacks pay by posting his second century for Victoria and second one in a Shield final.

Harris hundred hands Bushrangers strong start

Bringing up triple-figures with a square-cut off Joe Mennie, a beaming Harris performed a hopping, 360-degree spin jig he later explained was a nod to a YouTube video of a man dancing in a bikini.

"It comes from a video a few of us boys get around and he dances around like that," Harris said after his Shield final-record opening stand with Travis Dean of 224 helped Victoria to the commanding position of 3-322 at stumps on day one.

"(I was) just carrying on a bit."


Harris first gained the attention of the Victorian hierarchy after a player-of-the-match performance for his native state against the Bushrangers in the 2015 Shield final.

After posting 81 in the first-innings, Harris then struck a brilliant 158 off just 153 balls in WA's second dig to give his side hope of an unlikely win as the lower-ranked team.

That evaporated when the Bushrangers batted out a draw to claim the title, but the nuggetty left-hander had made his mark on his future teammates.

He crossed the Nullarbor with a middling Shield record – 41 first-class games yielding four tons and an average south of 30 – and some stinging parting words from Warriors coach and Test legend Justin Langer.

"His performances have been mediocre with flashes of brilliance," Langer told The West Australian when Harris accepted a long-term contract with Victoria.

"Marcus played more than 40 matches for WA and scored just four centuries. That must be frustrating for him, as it is for the coaches and fans.

"I respect the fact that our program is not for everyone and he leaves with our best wishes and the hope that he can one day play for Australia."

Redbacks rue missed chances in Shield final

But after giving another glimpse of that brilliance Langer described when he scored 115 and 77 on his Shield debut for his new state, Harris has backed it up with the most consistent domestic campaign of his career.

He's been dismissed for single figures only three times this season – all after Christmas against the Dukes balls which have been proved difficult for top-order batsman to contend with – and leads Victoria's run-scoring tally.

After his vital ton in Alice Springs, he now has 787 runs for the season with only Ed Cowan (959 runs), Hilton Cartwright (861) and George Bailey (839) ahead of him.

It was a good day: Harris

"I was coming off the back of a golden duck in my first Shield final," Harris said after play, in reference to being trapped lbw by Josh Hazlewood in his only hit playing for WA in the 2014 Shield final.

"So I'm just trying to make sure I cash in in every final I play in now.

"It was good to contribute again for the boys. To get a hundred was great.

"It's a good wicket up here so you've got to put a big score on the board in the first innings.

"If you get dropped two or three times, you probably want to make sure you get a hundred."