Australia’s Marcus Harris elated at realising long-awaited opportunity

Left-handed batsman Marcus Harris, who gained a spot in Australia’s squad for the India vs Australia Tests, confesses it was “something I’ve been working towards for a long time.”

Welcome inclusion: Marcus Harris has been rewarded for a prolific run of form in the Sheffield Shield. Photo: Getty Images

“His performances have been mediocre with flashes of brilliance.”

Those were the then Western Australian coach Justin Langer’s departing remarks for Marcus Harris, who in 2016, left the club for Victoria in search of better form. Ever since, the left-hander has hammered five centuries across 25 first-class matches at 47.58 and currently sits second in the batting chart (437 at 87.40) in the Sheffield Shield this season.

‘A good relationship’

Now, as Harris gears up for a likely Test debut with an Australian side coached by Langer, the 26-year-old says he understands “how Langer felt” when he left. “I would be disappointed, too, if someone left after you had invested time into them. But we have a good relationship, I’ve known him a long time and we’ve remained good friends throughout," Harris tells Sportstar a day after breaking into the Australian squad for the Test series against India.

“I got a call from Cricket Australia’s chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns to tell me I was in the squad. I’ve been around the cricket scene for a while now and to be given this opportunity is something I’ve been working towards for a long time,” he adds.

Marcus Harris says he remains good friends with Justin Langer (in picture). Photo: Getty Images

 

The inclusion of Harris and Peter Handscomb has brought the spotlight back on the Sheffield Shield encounter between Victoria and Queensland in Brisbane at a time when greats of the game Shane Warne and Steve Waugh have rued the diminishing importance of the premier competition, blaming a cramped schedule for the absence of nation’s top-tier cricketers.

‘Shield performances do matter’

Harris, however, offers a different view. “I guess Chris Tremain and I are proof that the Sheffield Shield performances do matter and we’re being judged on the weight of runs you make or wickets you take. I know Langer has reiterated the importance of respecting Shield cricket and the important role it plays,” Harris says.

There are as many as five Victorian players in the 14-man squad named by the selectors. And Harris is elated to see so many of his State team-mates making the cut.

“It’s great to have so many of the [Victoria] boys in the team. Peter Siddle is obviously a Test veteran, Peter Handscomb has been in great touch and has played India before in a Test series and Aaron Finch was one of the better performers in the UAE. I’m just grateful that selectors have given Chris and I the opportunity to be involved at this level as well. I think the Australian public just want us to get back to playing good cricket and that should lead to the victories which will make everyone proud of what we represent,” Harris signs off.

Team

Australia: Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremain.