Harris greets CA contract with gritty fifties in district opener

Marcus Harris has marked his show of confidence in Australia’s cricket bosses with a dismal County Championship half-century that showed why he’s queuing to win an Ashes recall.

Harris’ addition to the national contract list announced on Thursday has put the opener in pole position to regain his Test spot after a 14-month exile.

And on the first day of the Championship season in England on Thursday, he showed why that is the case as he held Gloucestershire’s innings together in Cardiff Test conditions as wickets tumbled around him.

The left-hander, who secured a national contract ahead of Matthew Renshaw and Peter Handscomb, held Glamorgan’s attack at bay for three hours on a difficult, rainy opening day, scoring 59 balls from 129 balls.

Harris was the mainstay of Gloucestershire’s 165 overall after they were sent in and mostly lost to Australian-born Netherlands international Timm van der Gugten, who won 5-26 from 17 penetrating overs.

After rain disruptions at Sophia Gardens, Harris, 30, who only arrived in Britain earlier in the week after playing for Victoria in the Marsh Sheffield Shield final, was a paragon of patience as he expertly dealt with a swing, seam ball, took 92 balls before finally scoring the first of his six limits.

He was the seventh wicket to fall, beaten by a swinging full delivery by his namesake James Harris for a score of 108.

Other Australians also did impressively as the County Championship got off to a rather wet start and the sun played hide and seek.

The opening day of Cameron Bancroft's debut for Somerset was abandoned due to a wet outfield // Getty
The opening day of Cameron Bancroft’s debut for Somerset was abandoned due to a wet outfield // Getty

All-rounder Sean Abbott helped shore up Surrey’s innings at Old Trafford, coming in 9th place to go unbeaten 34-of-57 balls with three fours and a six as the visitors finished 7-340, thanks largely to 76 from the England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes and 86 not from Cameron Steel.

Nathan McAndrew made a sparkling debut for Sussex at Hove, taking his first wicket for the county with a handsome away swinger and later dangerous man Graham Clark lbw, who hit six sixes in his 47 as Durham reached 7-352.

The speedy South Australian finished the game with impressive numbers of 3-69 from 19 overs.

McAndrew celebrates one of his three wickets on opening day of the county season // Getty
McAndrew celebrates one of his three wickets on opening day of the county season // Getty

And the evergreen 41-year-old former West Australian Michael Hogan, who surprised everyone by moving to Kent after a remarkable county career at Glamorgan, showed his value again, going 2-36 from his eight overs as Northamptonshire collapsed to 7-. 89 on another rainy day.

WA’s Sheffield Shield-winning captain Sam Whiteman managed just a single singles on his county debut for Northants before being bowled by Matthew Quinn.

Australians in the County Championship

Durham: Matthew Kuhnemann

Essex: Daniel Sams (T20s only)

Glamor Organ: Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser

Gloucestershire: Mark Harris

Hampshire: Nathan Ellis, Ben McDermott (both T20 only)

kent: Kane Richardson (T20s)

Leicestershire: Peter Handscomb (April and May)

Northamptonshire: Lance Morris (May 4-21), Chris Tremain (April 6-23), Sam Whiteman (until August), Chris Lynn (T20s), Andrew Tye (T20s)

Somerset: Peter Siddle (until July), Cameron Bancroft (until May 7)

Surrey: Sean Abbott (until July), Dan Worrall (British passport)

Sussex: Nathan McAndrew (until July), Steve Smith (May 4-21)

Warwickshire: Glenn Maxwell (T20s)

Yorkshire: Mickey Edwards (British passport)

Russell Falcon

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