Marcus Harris hundred makes most of chance to push case as David Warner’s replacement

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Marcus Harris, who is among those pushing to replace David Warner in Australia’s Test side, made the most of an extra red-ball innings with a brisk century on the second day of Pakistan’s warm-up match against a Victoria XI.

Harris struck 126 off 131 balls at Junction Oval, the innings including 22 fours and six, ahead of the selectors needing to make a call on a new opener early next month after Warner retires following the Sydney Test.

Whether the innings has any bearing on selection remains to be seen, but Harris made full use of the hastily arranged fixture which the PCB had asked for. The game was played behind closed doors, which was understood to be due to challenges of finding enough staff to open the venue at short notice rather than the visitors not wanting anyone to attend.

Although not a first-class match, the century adds to Harris’ impressive record at the ground where he averages 79.85 in four-day cricket although it is widely regarded as one of the flatter pitches in the country.

Harris, who doesn’t hold a BBL contract, had an up and down first part of the season for Victoria where he averaged 31.33 in five Sheffield Shield matches. He also faced Pakistan for the Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra where he made 49.

“Probably ever since I’ve moved to Victoria, feel like I’ve proven myself enough, especially in domestic cricket, whether or not in international cricket that’s up for debate and other people’s opinion”

Marcus Harris

He is one of three specialist openers in the mix to replace Warner, alongside Cameron Bancroft and Matt Renshaw, although there remains a chance the selectors opt for a batting order reshuffle to accommodate Cameron Green. However, so far, the potential candidates for promotion from within the current XI have been lukewarm to the idea.

“I think Cam’s skillful enough to play in any position for his country,” Alex Carey said on Saturday. “Again, probably like the Cameron and Mitch [Marsh] situation, it’s a great headache for Australian cricket to have. There’s so many amazing players around the country who are scoring runs. We’ve got a lot of great players around this group who could easily fit into the top six anywhere.

“We’ve still got a couple more games of Davey, if it is the end of Davey. To celebrate that is probably what I’m more keen on, to celebrate an amazing cricketer in Davey, rather than get too hung up over who will fill his shoes.”

Harris played the most recent of his 14 Tests against England, at Sydney, in early 2022 following which he became the fall guy to accommodate Usman Khawaja after he’d returned in that same match with twin hundreds. He has since been a regular reserve batter around the Test squad, including this year’s Ashes tour, and holds a CA central contract.

“I feel like I’ve had seven or eight years of good cricket,” Harris said during the PM’s XI game. “Probably ever since I’ve moved to Victoria, feel like I’ve proven myself enough, especially in domestic cricket, whether or not in international cricket that’s up for debate and other people’s opinion.

“In my last couple of Tests felt I was just getting going then things out of my control didn’t go my way, but that’s okay. I’ve been in this position the last few years, so if it comes down to one game then so be it.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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