Harris targets county gains after missing Test squad

Having found himself on the outer of Australia’s Test side during last summer’s Ashes, Marcus Harris sees it as somewhat of a blessing not to have been selected in the Test squad for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

The left-handed opener was the biggest casualty in the 16-player squad that will play two-matches in Galle at the end of a seven-week all format tour in June-July and has instead been picked in an Australia A squad for their four-day and 50-over tour.

But rather than another series running the drinks, after not featuring in the three-match series in Pakistan, the 29-year-old will use his omission as a chance to play more cricket in England for his county side Gloucestershire ahead of next year Ashes in the UK.

The Victorian has started the County Championship season in fine form with two centuries and a fifty and has 419 runs at 52 from five matches. He scored 32 overnight against Somerset before falling to England Test spinner Jack Leach.

“I said to Bails (selection chair George Bailey) that I’d rather play the Australia A series and then come back to England rather than running the drinks in Sri Lanka knowing I’m probably not going to play with it being a two- Test series, “Harris told RSN Breakfast this week.

“I’d rather come back to England and play some white-ball and County Championship and get some cricket under my belt.

“It probably worked out better for me not being in that squad; you obviously always want to be in Australian squads but with it being such a short series, the opportunity to come back to England and keep playing probably outweighs running drinks and mixing Hydralytes for two weeks.

“With COVID, the Pakistan touring squad was a squad of 18 and then it dropped back to 16 for Sri Lanka, so that was the messaging from Bails, they have not changed anything about what their view is of me.”

With Usman Khawaja coming back into the side and doing so well, and David Warner still averaging 47 at the top, Harris said he was “quite aware” he was probably not going to be opening the batting for Australia for a little while.

“By being over here and playing, and then going to Sri Lanka in a couple of weeks and having played a lot of cricket by the time the Ashes rolls around next year, hopefully I’ll be front of mind for selection,” he said .

“Hopefully having done well through this season here in England… yeah, I’d love to be playing in that series but there’s a bit of water to go under the bridge before then.

“I’m driven just to do well and lead from the front every game for whatever team I’m playing for. I’ve made two hundreds in my first four games, and I’d love to leave this county season having made four or five hundreds by the time I come home.

“Sometimes you can look too far ahead, especially with Australian selection and you can get caught up in it. The beauty of being able to play for Victoria and then be able to play county cricket is I’m playing cricket all year round.

“I know when I used to just play with Victoria, I’d build so much up on Shield cricket and then I’d sit down for six months and do bugger all.

“Now that I play 12 months of the year, I can just take it as it comes a little bit and just focus on that and then the international stuff comes when it comes and the selectors, they’re also really clear about where I stand and what I’m doing. “

Australia A are scheduled to play two one-day matches in Colombo on June 8 and 10, with two four-day fixtures in Hambantota from June 14, where Harris could find himself opening the batting with either South Australia’s Henry Hunt or Queensland’s Matthew Renshaw.

Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka, 2022

T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner, Matthew Wade

June 7: First T20, Colombo

June 8: Second T20, Colombo

June 11: Third T20, Kandy

ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

June 14: First ODI, Kandy

June 16: Second ODI, Kandy

June 19: Third ODI, Colombo

June 21: Fourth ODI, Colombo

June 24: Fifth ODI, Colombo

Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

June 29 – July 3: First Test, Galle

July 8-12: Second Test, Galle

Australia A fixtures

Squad: Sean Abbott, Scott Boland, Pete Handscomb, Aaron Hardie, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kuhnemann, Nic Maddinson, Todd Murphy, Josh Philippe, Matt Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, Tanveer Sangha, Mark Steketee

June 8: First one-day game, Colombo

June 10: Second one-day game, Colombo

June 14-17: first-class tour match, Hambantota

June 21-24: first-class tour match, Hambantota

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