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Harris hits timely hundred in county game

Marcus Harris has returned to red-ball form with a well-timed century for Gloucestershire in England’s domestic County Championship.

Opening the innings after Somerset put Gloucestershire into bat Harris made 159, his highest score of the season and his third century of the campaign.

Hitting 17 fours and a six in his 263-ball stay Harris helped Glos to 320-6 at the close of the first of four days’ play at Taunton.

Harris began his season in England’s west country with two centuries in April, 136 against Yorkshire and 124 against Surrey, both at home ground Bristol. But since then big scores had been elusive, though he made four 50s in eight innings in the 50-over competition in August.

However, this century lifted his Championship average this season to 44 from 36 and comes at a good time.

The Australian selectors’ minds are very much on white-ball cricket at present as the T20 World Cup preparations gear up, but further down the track there are home Test series against West Indies and South Africa starting in late November.

Finishing the English season strongly will set Harris up as he returns to West Australia and bids to regain his Test place.

Harris was dropped after the fourth Ashes Test in January, being the batter to make way when Travis Head regained his place after a bout of COVID-19 as Usman Khawaja had become undroppable.

He failed to make the XI for the Tests in Pakistan and was omitted from the squad that toured Sri Lanka. At 30, without a century in 14 Tests, he does not have time on his side.

On Monday Harris and Ben Charlesworth (56) put on an opening stand of 126 while 21-year-old Ollie Price (52) provided further support against a Somerset attack featuring Sajid Khan.

The Pakistan off-spinner gave Harris his one moment of anxiety, on 33, when he survived a sharp chance to George Bartlett at short-leg.

At lunch Harris was 47 no and he soon brought up a 99-ball half-century. After a rain break the left-hander hit Sajid over his head for the day’s only six. A late cut for four off Sajid took Harris to his 22nd first class hundred, off 174 balls.

Wickets began to fall at the other end, with the new ball having a impact, but Harris batted serenely on before, with eight balls of the day remaining, he edged a back-foot shot off Jack Brooks to Lewis Gregory at slip.

With PA

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