‘Ridiculous call’: Ashes star torn to shreds

‘Ridiculous call’: Ashes star torn to shreds

Australian opener Marcus Harris is running out of chances to prove his worth at Test level after another early dismissal on Thursday.

Calls for Usman Khawaja to make his long-awaited return to the Australian side have grown in volume after opening batter Marcus Harris registered another low score on day one of the Adelaide pink-ball Test.

Harris fell victim to a superb piece of fielding from England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler in the eighth over of Australia’s first innings at Adelaide Oval on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran seamer Stuart Broad delivered a short delivery from around the wicket at the left-hander’s body, and Harris looked to pull the Kookaburra through square leg.

But the Victorian only managed to glove the ball through to Buttler, who claimed an impressive one-handed diving catch horizontal to the turf.

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“It’s a stunning catch from Jos Buttler,” Fox Cricket commentator Isa Guha said. “Superman, to his right.”

Former Australian gloveman Adam Gilchrist continued: “You’ll go a long way to see many better catches by a wicketkeeper.”

Harris made his way back to the pavilion for 3, leaving Australia in early trouble at 1/4 after 7.3 overs. It was the fourth time Broad had dismissed Harris in four Ashes Tests.

Thursday’s dismissal continued a horror run of form for the 29-year-old, who has reached double figures just once in his seven most recent first-class knocks.

Harris now averages 9.12 with the bat against England in Test cricket, making him statistically the worst opener in Ashes history.

In his 13 most recent Test innings, he has passed 20 just once – 11, 14, 8, 19, 13, 6, 3, 9, 5, 38, 3, 9* and 3.

The Victorian has not scored a half-century in Australian whites since the 2019 New Year’s Test match against India, almost three years ago.

“He‘s got a bit to think about going forward, Marcus Harris,” former Australian batter Mark Waugh said on Fox Cricket. “He needs a score desperately.”

ABC broadcaster Glenn Mitchell tweeted: “Marcus Harris is skating on thin ice if he fails in the second innings. Yes, a freakish catch by Jos Buttler. But, in his 12th Test, having played 22 innings for 443 runs at 22 he has been granted ample opportunities.”

Channel 9 commentator Peter Psaltis posted: “That’s it. He’s been given enough chances.”

Lowest average for opening batters in Ashes cricket

9.12 – Marcus Harris (AUS)

10.33 – Peter McAlister (AUS)

11.66 – Trevor Bailey (ENG)

12.77 – Adam Lyth (ENG)

16.16 – C.B. Fry (ENG)

* Minimum five Ashes Tests

After Victorian teammate Will Pucovski was ruled out of the Ashes series with concussion symptoms, national selector George Bailey announced that Harris would open the batting alongside David Warner for the marquee series.

Harris had a modest record in Test cricket, but turned heads during his recent county stint with Leicestershire, where he scored 655 runs in eight matches at 54.58.

He returned home and scored a classy 137 against New South Wales in Victoria’s Sheffield Shield opener at Drummoyne Oval, but it remains his only knock of significance in the 2021/22 season.

The left-hander will almost certainly get another opportunity in the second innings at Adelaide, but with the experienced Khawaja breathing down his neck, he’s running out of chances to prove his worth at international level.

Khawaja averages 96.80 when opening the batting in Test cricket – the Queenslander has scored 460 runs at an average of 65.71 in the Sheffield Shield this season, including two centuries in five matches.

“We’re really excited that Uzzie is in the squad and obviously brings a great deal of versatility in the roles in which he can bat as well,” Bailey told Fox Cricket last week.

“If Uzzie gets an opportunity we think he’ll take it with both hands. The harder the decisions, the more exciting it is in many respects.”

Australia is 1/45 at the tea break on day one at Adelaide Oval, with Warner unbeaten on 20 and No. 3 batter Marnus Labuschagne at the other end on 16.

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