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Dumped Test star Harris gives selectors 91 reasons to bring him back against Pakistan

Harris has staked his claim for a recall to the Test side but a 20th first class century eluded him in his final match before Australia’s tour of Pakistan.

Another former Test star, Nic Maddinson, stole Harris’ thunder with a speedy and unbeaten 110 as Victoria chased down Queensland’s total leading into the final day of play.

Despite being dumped for the fifth Ashes Test, Harris earned selection in the squad to tour Pakistan from next month.

Usman Khawaja booted Harris out of the XI in the Ashes and will be Australia’s other option to partner David Warner at the top of the order.

But while Queensland skipper Khawaja opted to miss the match at Junction Oval to get ready for the tour, Harris was keen for some time in the middle.

It paid off — he forged a blistering partnership with Victorian captain Peter Handscomb and gave selectors 91 reasons to consider him for a return to the XI.

At stumps on day two, Harris had managed 88, but just as he began to dream of posting a century at the best time possible, Queensland quick James Bazley brought him crashing back to earth.

Harris edged Bazley to gully where he was caught and Handscomb (92) followed three overs later, bowled by Mitch Swepson.

Swepson is another man knocking on the door for Test selection but he’d have liked to have pitched in more than he did on day three. He finished with figures of 1-94.

Swepson was considered a chance to earn his Test debut in the fourth match of the Ashes at the SCG but Justin Langer opted to stick with Nathan Lyon as the only spinner in the XI.

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Test star Harris

Senior members of the Australian team have previously indicated the Pakistan wickets could warrant playing more than one spinner, and with part-time offie and groom-to-be Glenn Maxwell sitting the tour out, there’s one less man standing between Swepson and his Test debut.

Gurinder Sandhu was the pick of the bowlers for Queensland, tearing through Victoria’s tail to finish with 5-65.

Like Swepson, Queensland quick Mark Steketee is a chance to make his Test debut on the subcontinent, having been called into the squad as a replacement for the injured Michael Neser.

He got in on the bloodshed at the death against Victoria and added three more wickets to a cracking campaign for Queensland this summer.

Victoria was all out for 360 and by stumps, Queensland had managed 3-69 in reply.

In the other Sheffield Shield match, NSW tightened its grip on Tasmania’s throat.

Already ahead by 63 runs at the end of Tasmania’s first innings, NSW broke further in front thanks to half-centuries from opener Matthew Gilkes (64) and Big Bash sensation Jason Sangha (75).

NSW declared at 9-226 and at stumps, Tasmania was 271 runs away from victory at 1-19.

Harris Test career

Harris was first selected to join the Australian team ahead of the 2018–19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy. According to Harris, he received a text message from now Australian coach Justin Langer saying, “Welcome to the brotherhood, you little bastard”. Harris and Langer both publicly denied media speculation that there was bad blood between them after Langer’s comments when Harris had left Western Australia.

Let me squash this straightaway – Marcus Harris is like my little brother. I’ve known him at Scarborough Cricket Club since he was about 10 years old. Did I say [he was] mediocre with flashes of brilliance? Yeah I did, because that’s what he was. That’s the truth, look at it. … What he’s done [since leaving WA], to his great credit, is he’s become a really consistent opening batsman with flashes of brilliance.— Justin Langer

Harris made his Test debut on 6 December 2018, opening the batting alongside his Victorian teammate Aaron Finch, the least experienced pair to open the batting for Australia at Test level since the 1950s. He had his baggy green cap presented by Michael Hussey. Harris played in all four matches of the series against India, but was unable to cement his spot. He scored 256 runs, including two half-centuries, at an average of 36.57,and he was Australia’s most consistent batsman in the 2–1 series loss, but he wasn’t able to score a century in any of the matches Harris then under-performed in the subsequent series against Sri Lanka, potentially putting his place in the Test team at risk for the upcoming 2019 Ashes series.

Harris finished off the season playing for Victoria in the remaining matches of the 2018–19 Sheffield Shield season. In a match against Queensland he had innings of 95  and 174 to push his case,  and then on the final day of the regular season he scored 65 runs against South Australia to take his season total up to 1,024 runs. In doing so, he became the first person to score 1,000 runs in a season for Victoria since Chris Rogers a decade earlier. Victoria made it to the Sheffield Shield final again, and Harris scored another century in the final to finish off the summer.  Harris was given his first contract with Cricket Australia for the 2019–20 season.

He was named in Australia’s squad for the 2019 Ashes series in England. He was omitted from the first two Tests, but recalled in place of Cameron Bancroft in the third Test.

Marcus again was selected in Australia’s squad in the 2021-22 Ashes series, as an opening batsmen (alongside David Warner) in the first four test matches. His best result was in the third test in Melbourne, where he top-scored with 76 runs.

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