bancroft and harris
Test aspirants Marcus Harris (No.14) and Cam Bancroft have begun their 'bat-off' for the PM's XI. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
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Harris backs record after poor dismissal for PM’s XI

Alex Mitchell December 7, 2023

Former Test opener Marcus Harris believes he’s done enough for a recall to the Australian team as the search for David Warner’s replacement continues.

Harris got a start but missed out on the chance to make a statement score for the Prime Minister’s XI against Pakistan at Manuka Oval on Thursday, as did fellow Test contender Cameron Bancroft, as the hosts ended day two at 2-149.

They were replying to Pakistan’s 9-391 declared, highlighted by skipper Shan Masood’s brilliant unbeaten 201 that perhaps raised hopes his side can match it with Australia in the upcoming three-Test series.

Matt Renshaw, another candidate to take Warner’s soon-to-be-vacant Test opening spot, crawled his way to an unbeaten 18 and will look to go big on Friday morning.

Harris, who’s played 14 Tests and regularly been with the Australian side as a back-up batter, played some classy shots and lofted drives before throwing away his wicket on 49, meekly chipping spinner Abrar Ahmed straight to mid-on.

Marcus Harris.
 Marcus Harris plays a defensive shot during his innings of 49 against Pakistan at Manuka Oval. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

But the Victorian laughed off the idea one innings should define his future with the national side, saying “seven or eight years of good cricket” was far more relevant.

“I’ve been in this position for the last few years now, so if it comes down to one game, then so be it,” he told reporters.

“Probably ever since I’ve moved to Victoria, I’ve felt I’ve proved myself enough, especially in domestic cricket.

“Whether or not in international cricket, that’s up for debate and other people’s opinions … my last couple of Tests I felt like I was just starting to get going and then things out of my control didn’t go my way.”

Bancroft entered fresh from making a mountain of runs at Sheffield Shield level – 512 at an average of 57 – but looked a little shaky on the way to his 53.

Renshaw will begin day three alongside allrounder Cameron Green (19 not out), who’s also trying to bat his way back into national team contention after being usurped in the Test side by Mitchell Marsh.

Jordan Buckingham (centre) against Pakistan.
 Jordan Buckingham (c) is congratulated by teammates after taking 5-80 in Pakistan’s first innings. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

He could also play a part in replacing Warner, who is set to retire from the Test arena after the Pakistan series, if any of Marsh, Marnus Labuschagne or Travis Head are moved up the order to open.

Quizzed on his thoughts about a makeshift opener filling the specialist role, Harris pointed to how tough the job can be.

“It’s a good debate … you’d have to ask (the selectors) what they want to do, it’s up to them,” he said.

“Opening the batting is not the easiest thing in the world but … they’ve probably got a bit of time before they have to make that decision.”

The PM’s XI are not facing the tourists’ first-choice bowling outfit however, with Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim all rested for the tour game.

Pakistan skipper Masood looked like a man on a mission and displayed little emotion when he reached his double-century, setting the tone for his side in his first innings since assuming the captaincy.

South Australia quick Jordan Buckingham (5-80) was the PM’s XI best bowler, completing his haul courtesy of a sharp catch from Renshaw at leg-gully to dismiss Hamza (eight).