Sussex v Australia A - Tour Match
Sussex v Australia A - Tour Match

Warner’s message for new buddy Harris

The messages David Warner sent to Marcus Harris came out of the blue.

But they could prove to be crucial building blocks for one of Australia's most important Ashes relationships.

Harris looms as the man most likely to open the batting with Warner when the Australians take on the old enemy in the first Test in Birmingham from August 1.

He's the incumbent opener after he played six Tests and posted 1188 runs in the Sheffield Shield last season, including a matchwinning 141 for Victoria in the Shield final.

The prolonged absence of Joe Burns, his opening partner during Australia's most recent Test series against Sri Lanka, seemingly had Harris as an unopposed opening contender.

 

Marcus Harris hits a boundary to reach his century for Australia A tagaiunst Sussex. Pic: Getty Images
Marcus Harris hits a boundary to reach his century for Australia A tagaiunst Sussex. Pic: Getty Images

 

Burns, who made 180 against Sri Lanka in Canberra in February, quit his county cricket stint in England in May and on his return home was diagnosed with a fatigue disorder.

But he has returned and, opening with Harris for Australia A against Sussex in a tour game last week, both men made centuries. Harris made 109 and Burns 133.

Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns called it a selection "squeeze". The top six from Australia's last series, a comprehensive 2-0 win over Sri Lanka, will have a far different look for the Ashes as banned pair Warner and Steve Smith return.

The re-emergence of banned opener Cameron Bancroft, who has made more than 1000 runs for English county team Durham this season, has further complicated things.

But it's hard to imagine Harris would be the unlucky one. He played all six Tests last summer and was the leading Australian run-scorer in the 2-1 loss to India.

Add to that Harris' new found relationship with Warner.

While he served out the last months of his year-long suspension in relative silence, Warner offered support to his fellow left-hander which begun a relationship Harris is keen to grow.

"We've exchanged messages a fair few times. He's messaged me after a couple of my 50s in the Test series, after my hundred in the Shield final," Harris said.

"I saw him briefly when we were in Brisbane for our contract meetings, too. I'd be lying if I said I'd spent a heap of time with him, but we speak every now and again.

 

David Warner starred in white ball cricket, but can he do the same in the Ashes? Pic: Getty Images
David Warner starred in white ball cricket, but can he do the same in the Ashes? Pic: Getty Images

 

"He text me before my first Test and just said, 'Good luck, keep playing the way you've been playing,' then a few more times too.

"I definitely wasn't expecting them … but it's really nice when you get messages from those guys."

Harris, who will ink up with Warner in Southampton this week as Australia takes on Australia A in the final selection showdown, is now one of "those guys" himself.

A Cricket Australia contract confirmed as much and the increase in his June commitments solidified his new standing as an Australian cricketer, not just a state player with ambitions.

"Life has changed a bit, I've been doing a few appearances, which I try to avoid, but it's good," he said when he spoke to the Sunday Herald Sun at the MCG before heading to England.

"It has changed a lot, but for the better."

With a CA contract comes a significant boost in income too, enough for Harris, who turns 27 today (Sunday, July 21), to finally buy a house.

Harris was energised by those thoughts, before the very thing that got him in to that position, playing cricket, brought his househunting to a halt.

"The lease was about to come up, and I wanted to go buy a house, but I'm going to be in England for a few months," he said.

"Myself and my girlfriend Kat, we're looking, and I'll keep an eye on stuff. They are big things in my life, and I'm grateful, and feel very lucky.

"Not many people get the opportunity to be in the position I'm in."

It's a position Harris has no intention of taking for granted either.

He was diligent during his time off in April and was back in the nets at the Junction Oval, hitting balls with the younger members of the Victorian squad by May.

Harris has the backing of plenty to hold his spot, with greats of the game like Allan Border and Steve Waugh declaring he looked every bit the Test opener last summer.

But his push through the back end of the Sheffield Shield season, including two hundreds in his final three games, were evidence that Harris knows only hard work, and loads more runs, will guarantee him the opportunity in England he has dreamed of.

"It's like when you get your first rookie contract for your state. You don't want to be chewed up and spat out straight away," he said.

"There are going to be ups and downs but like I always speak about, I just want to be consistent. If I can do that for long periods of time, make lots of runs, the other sorts of things will look after themselves.

"It's a reward. If you do all the right things in the middle, the rest will look after itself."

 

Harris may soon be walking to the middle with Warner. Pic: Phil Hillyard
Harris may soon be walking to the middle with Warner. Pic: Phil Hillyard

 

BRIGHT SPARK

Marcus Harris

Born: July 21, 1992, in Perth

Test debut: v India in Adelaide, Dec 2018

Tests: 6

Runs: 327. Ave: 32.7

Highest: 79. 50s: 2

 

THE TESTS

Aug 1-5: first Test at Edgbaston

Aug 14-15: second Test at Lord's

Aug 22-26: third Test at Headingley

Sept 4-8: fourth Test at Old Trafford

Sept 12-16: fifth Test at The Oval

News Corp Australia


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