Opening batsman Marcus Harris on Thursday got his first call-up to the Australian Test squad after he was picked for the first two Tests against India, alongside fellow rookie Chris Tremain.
The 26-year-old, who smashed 250 not out against New South Wales last month and is the Sheffield Shield’s second-highest run-scorer, is expected to open the innings in Adelaide on December 6 alongside Aaron Finch.
One of the many people who congratulated Harris on Thursday was Australia head coach Justin Langer, who was the 26-year-old’s mentor when he used to play for Western Australia till two years ago.
“He texted me just before [and] said, ‘Welcome to the brotherhood you little b******,’” Harris was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“We’re both from the same club team in Perth...it’s one of those things where everywhere I looked, JL, he was either on the TV or was down at [Scarborough Cricket Club’s home ground] Abbett Park.
“I definitely watched him a bit. We had the same batting coach so that probably had a bit to do with it. I didn’t try to copy him at all but it’s just the way it ended up.”
However, Langer did not hold Harris in much high regard two years ago, when he had said that the youngster was “mediocre with flashes of brilliance”. Despite becoming the youngest Australian to score a first-class 150 and scoring 239 runs across both innings of the 2015 Sheffield Shield final, Harris averaged in the low 30s back then.
Harris said that he took Langer’s critical words in the right spirit and worked on his game, rather than being disheartened. Langer also set the record straight on Thursday, saying that Harris “is like my little brother”.
“I’ve known him at Scarborough Cricket Club since he was about 10 years old,” the Australia head coach was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“Did I say [he was] mediocre with flashes of brilliance? Yeah I did, because that’s what he was. That’s the truth, look at it.
“I keep reading you guys’ headlines [that] there’s a big thing about Justin Langer and Marcus Harris because he said he’s mediocre. He’s my little brother. I love him, I love him, he makes me laugh every time I see him.
“When I read those things it’s like a dagger to my heart because I know it’s actually not what happened.”
Ever since Harris moved to Victoria in 2016, he has become a very consistent batsman. He averaged 43 in his first season and 42 in his second season with Victoria. This season, he has scored 437 runs at an average of 87 in four Shield games, according to the report.
“Marcus Harris has forced his way into the squad after an impressive start to the Sheffield Shield campaign for Victoria, and in recent times has performed in high pressure matches, including Sheffield Shield finals,” Australia’s chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns was quoted as saying.
“Not only has he made plenty of runs, he’s displayed the mental application we believe is required to compete at Test cricket.”
The first Test between Australia and India begins on December 6 in Adelaide.
With inputs from AFP