MELBOURNE: Marcus Harris, the Victoria opening batsman, has been rewarded for consistency over several seasons by vaulting into Australia’s 14-man Test squad for the first two Tests against India, while Peter Handscomb has also been recalled after a winter’s technical work as part of a team seeking to overcome the absence of the banned Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
The inclusion of Harris comes after consecutive seasons in which he has tallied 1,514 runs at 42.05 and followed up with 437 at 87.40 in four Sheffield Shield rounds this season, including an unbeaten 250 against New South Wales. His selection sends a strong message about the sort of sustained performances the coach Justin Langer is seeking, while also opening up the question of Australia’s opening combination.
Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja formed a successful union in the Tests against Pakistan in the UAE, before the latter fell prey to a knee injury he has only just recovered from in time for the final Sheffield Shield round. While praising Harris, Langer said he was still pondering how to array the batting order in Adelaide.
“I really like the synergy of Finch and Khawaja in the UAE. Like a lot of opening partners a bit of an odd couple about them, and often really good partnerships are like that,” Langer said in Melbourne. “You think about [Chris] Rogers and [David] Warner, [Gordon] Greenidge and [Desmond] Haynes… they’re very different and I just like that synergy and a good relationship. Uzzy’s very chilled out, Finchy is a bit more combative, they have a nice feel about that partnership.
“There’s a lot of talk about Finch can’t open in Australia and all that sort of stuff, I’m not sure about that. He’s opened all through [with the] white ball, did a really good job in the UAE, conditions might be a bit different, we’re not playing at the Gabba or the WACA either. That’s one of the things we’re mulling over at the moment, the perfect combination, we also respect that the Indians have got really good spin bowlers, we’ve got five left-handers in that seven at the moment potentially. All those things we’re going to play around with and make sure we get the best combination we can.”
“Marcus Harris has forced his way into the squad after an impressive start to the Sheffield Shield campaign for Victoria, and in recent times has performed in high-pressure matches, including Sheffield Shield finals,” the national selector Trevor Hohns said. “Not only has he made plenty of runs, but he’s also displayed the mental application we believe is required to compete at Test cricket.”