Marsh Sheffield Shield 2019-20
Harris shines brightest as Test race heats up
Incumbent opener boosts case for a recall, while all eyes will be on Brisbane on Friday when David Warner resumes his innings
AAP & Cricket Network
10 October 2019, 08:10 PM AEST
With national selector Trevor Hohns in attendance at the Junction Oval on Thursday, Marcus Harris tightened his grip on a Test spot in a dominant display by Victoria’s top order on the first day of their Marsh Sheffield Shield clash with South Australia.
After a lean Ashes series in which he made just 58 runs from six innings, Harris gave his chances of retaining his spot at the top of Australia's batting order a shot in the arm with his innings of 116.
He was almost outdone, however, by teammate Nic Maddinson, who finished the day unbeaten on 195 to continue his remarkable career resurgence.
After Victoria skipper Peter Handscomb won the toss, Harris smashed nine fours and four sixes in the impressive knock that ended in the 58th over when he was caught at gully off the bowling of Nick Winter.
Hohns has wiped the slate clean for all spots in the top six bar Steve Smith following the Ashes and Harris said he’s thrilled to have started his bid to play the first Domain Test against Pakistan in November strongly.
"Obviously I didn't make the runs I wanted to in the Ashes so I know full well that I have to make runs in these games before the team is selected," Harris said.
"Technically (that Test opener's spot) is mine at the moment, but I have to do quite well to make sure I'm the man there at the start of the series.
"A hundred in the first game is probably going to help a little bit."
Rather than lament his poor returns in the Ashes, Harris says the experience of facing star England duo Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer in difficult batting conditions will only make him a better player.
“It was probably just the level of bowling (that troubled me), with the way Broad and Archer bowled,” said the left-hander.
“I probably hadn't faced anything like that before.
“It was probably just the way the ball reacted over there, I wasn't used to it seaming as much as it was. That was a good challenge.”
Harris was a rare bright spot for Australia’s Test hopefuls on day one of the season, where several big names failed to impress.
On a bowler-friendly day in Brisbane where 13 wickets fell, Queensland’s Matthew Renshaw (19), Joe Burns (13) and Usman Khawaja (1) all failed to get going in their match against NSW, although incumbent Test No.1 Marnus Labuschagne impressed with an innings of 69 in their total of 153.
Even Ashes hero Steve Smith was unable to get going, dismissed for a duck late in the day, while David Warner survived until stumps, facing 59 balls and finishing unbeaten on 27.
In Perth, Ashes-squad members Mitchell Marsh (41) and Cameron Bancroft (30) were unable to take advantage of good starts, while Marcus Stoinis scored 61 batting at No.6.