Harris back in WA top order
Harris back in WA top order

Marcus Harris has completed his penance and is poised to help WA make a strong push for their first Sheffield Shield final in 15 years.

Sent home from the Ryobi Cup last October to work on his attitude, fielding and other elements of his game, the 21-year-old has responded so well that there was little debate over which bats-man should replace Shaun Marsh in the WA top order to take on Tasmania at the WACA Ground today.

He scored a pair of 50s against Test pair Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle in the Futures League match in Brisbane last month, the only WA batsman to thrive in the tough conditions, and has also produced two recent centuries for Scarborough in grade cricket.

"He is an interesting case," WA coach Justin Langer said. "He is only 21 and has been in and out of Sheffield Shield cricket for three years.

"He was very clear at the start of the year on what he had to improve and he is really maturing and was the standout batsman against Harris and Siddle.

"He has worked very hard for this opportunity and deserves to be rewarded for his performances."

Harris' class has not been in doubt since his third shield appearance when he became, at 18, the youngest Australian to score 150 in first-class ranks, but he has battled to convert the quality of his batting into substantial scores.

Former Test player Vic Richardson is the only regular Australian batsman to get out in the 20s more often than Harris, who succumbs in the 20s in 25 per cent of his innings.

He is set to bat at No.3 against the Tigers, who boast former Test bowlers Ben Hilfenhaus and Xavier Doherty, as well as seamer Luke Butterworth, whose 22 wickets at 20.86 at the WACA make him one of the most successful visiting bowlers at the ground. The two States have had a keen rivalry in Perth in recent years with four wins apiece in the past eight seasons.

The Warriors have won thrillers by two wickets and 25 runs in the past two seasons when Tasmania qualified for the shield final.

Ryan Duffield, who became the fastest WA bowler to 50 wickets in the win over Tasmania in December, could be forced out by the return of Nathan Coulter-Nile.

  • Teams - WA: * Marcus North, Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris, Adam Voges (capt.), Mitch Marsh, Ashton Turner, Sam Whiteman, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Michael Beer, Michael Hogan, Ryan Duffield (12th to be named).

  • Tasmania: * Ben Dunk, Mark Cosgrove, Ed Cowan, George Bailey (capt.), Jon Wells, Tim Paine, Luke Butterworth, Ben Hilfenhaus, Xavier Doherty, Sam Rainbird, Andrew Fekete, Evan Gulbis (12th to be named).

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