Run-hungry Marcus Harris appears to be using another lucrative spell in county cricket to prove he’s still good enough to win back his place as Australia’s Test opener.
The West Australian continued his fine form for Gloucestershire in the English game, defying the return of Lancashire’s Jimmy Anderson on Thursday to notch up another valuable half-century as wickets tumbled liberally at Old Trafford.
Harris, who opened his new career with Gloucestershire in the championship division one with a magnificent hundred against Yorkshire, top-scored with 67 while sharing in a century opening partnership with Chris Dent.
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It was another fine knock, featuring 10 fours and a six, from the left-hander who’s battling hard after a dispiriting few months in which he lost both his Test place at the end of the Ashes series and, subsequently, his Cricket Australia contract.
Harris, who had a lucrative spell with Leicestershire in the last English summer, also had to sit out the Sheffield Shield final because of a COVID-19 infection but he’s kept making plenty of first-class runs for both Victoria and Gloucestershire since the international axe fell.
Facing a quality Lancashire attack, headed by Anderson and Pakistan star Hassan Ali, Harris batted for nearly three hours and 117 balls before his dismissal by England Test paceman Saqib Mahmood sparked a collapse.
Ali took 6-47 as Gloucestershire struggled to 252 all out but Anderson, out to regain his England place nearing his 40th birthday after being controversially left out of the tour to the West Indies, couldn’t get in the wickets column while conceding just a tidy 30 off his 16 overs.
Elsewhere, Marcus Labuschagne lost out in renewed battle with Shaheen Shah Afridi in Cardiff, as the brilliant Pakistan quick removed Glamorgan’s Australian star as part of his first three-wicket haul for Middlesex.
Labuschagne, currently ranked the world’s best Test batsman, was on just eight when his misguided attempt to leave a ball ended with him edging it onto his stumps.
No batsman was really in, though, as the seamers enjoyed themselves on a day when 16 wickets fell.
After Glamorgan were bowled out for just 122, Middlesex struggled to 6-171, with their Aussie captain Peter Hanscomb falling for an eight-ball duck.
Other county championship highlights on Thursday included a second unbeaten century in a row for Brett D’Oliveira – grandson of the late England great Basil – as Worcestershire reached 5-338 against Sussex.
The 30-year-old ended the day at Worcester 106 not out to follow up his unbeaten 134 against Leicestershire.