JLT Sheffield Shield 2018-19
Harris, Wade on the verge of rare feat
Ashes hopefuls eyeing 1000-run milestone in final round of Sheffield Shield season
16 March 2019, 02:39 PM AEST
Marcus Harris and Matthew Wade are on the cusp of achieving a rare JLT Sheffield Shield milestone entering the final round of the season.
Victoria’s Harris and Tasmania’s Wade are both within touching distance of the magical 1000-run barrier heading into the next round of matches, starting on Wednesday.
Only two Shield batsmen have reached the mark in one summer in the past decade, underlining the enormity of the task.
Adam Voges (1358 runs) and Michael Klinger (1046) both ticked off the feat in 2014-15 as Western Australia finished runners-up.
Harris is the competition’s leading run-scorer with 943 runs at a magnificent average of 72.53 from eight games.
The left-hander will be looking boost his claims for a spot in the touring party for the Ashes when ladder-leader Victoria faces South Australia at Adelaide’s Karen Rolton Oval.
Harris hammered a career-best 250 not out against New South Wales in October and plundered a matchwinning 174 against Queensland last month.
The opener, who averages 32.70 from six Tests, compiled two half-centuries in Australia’s 2-1 series loss to India before contributing 44, 11 and 14 in the 2-0 series triumph over Sri Lanka.
“After those first Tests against India and that first series, I obviously missed a chance against Sri Lanka,” Harris said last month.
“But the carrot as an Australian cricketer is to play in Ashes, and especially over in England, just with the way that is, that’s the biggest series you can play in.
“That's my goal for the next six months and that’s what’s burning away at me.
“Every time I'm playing and batting, all I’m thinking about is trying to do everything right to get myself in a position to be able to open the batting in the Ashes”
Harris is well placed to slot into an opening spot for the first Test against England at Edgbaston, starting on August 1, after hitting two tons and five half-centuries from 14 Shield innings in 2018-19.
An exhausting Test summer resulted in Harris abandoning plans to play county cricket this year in the hope he would be recharged for a potential Ashes tour.
Wade, meanwhile, sent another reminder to national selectors on Friday with a brilliant 134 on the final day of Tasmania’s Shield clash against WA.
The 31-year-old, who last played Test cricket in December, 2017, has 922 runs at 61.46 to his name, highlighted by two centuries and seven fifties.
He was also in red-hot form for Hobart Hurricanes during this summer’s KFC BBL, hitting 592 runs, ranking him second for the tournament behind teammate D’Arcy Short.
The Tigers are out of the running for a spot in the Shield final and will meet NSW at Blundstone Arena in the final round.
Wade has moved up the order to No.4 in the second half of the Shield campaign after the return of Test skipper Tim Paine.
"(The selectors have said) they'd like to see me bat in the top four if I'm going to be selected as a specialist batsman,” Wade said in February.
"I've sat down and had a good think about it, and to be moving around in the order for my personal goals is not something I've ever wanted to do as a player. I'll be playing wherever suits Tassie and the Hurricanes.
"Having said that, I think Tim Paine's available for the first three (Shield) games back after the break so that may be an opportunity for me to go up the order and see what I can do.
"There's an Ashes around the corner and I still feel like I can put my hand up for that as a keeper-batsman as well.
"Absolutely, it's a little bit frustrating (to not get selected). Weight of runs was the order of the day when Justin took over and I feel like I've put weight of runs on the board and I still haven't got a chance yet. So it's a little bit frustrating.”