Qantas Ashes Tour England

Harris chooses rest over county stint

Australia opener has shelved plans to play county cricket in England ahead of this year's Ashes series

Martin Smith

14 February 2019, 04:32 PM AEST

The sheer exhaustion of his first summer of Test cricket has led Marcus Harris to abandon plans to play county cricket this year.

Harris said he explored the option of playing for an English county side to prepare for the Ashes against England, as fellow Test opening contenders Joe Burns (Lancashire), Matthew Renshaw (Kent) and Cameron Bancroft (Durham) will do this winter.

But the left-hander will instead take a break at the end of the Australian summer in order to recharge for what he hopes will be his first Test campaign abroad.

"I was looking at it for a little while," Harris told cricket.com.au today at the launch of the Grassroots Cricket Fund, which will pump $30 million into cricket clubs around the country.

"But once I got to the point where I was actually pretty worn out after the Tests, I thought the best thing for me was the have a break. 

"I definitely thought about it, but then I thought if I don't have a break, I'll be pretty much non-stop for the whole time.

"(My manager) was in discussions, but nothing too serious. I shut it down after a little bit because I didn't want to lead anyone astray."

The imminent return of David Warner from suspension as well as the performance of Burns against Sri Lanka earlier this month has left Harris far from secure at the top of the order for Australia's next Test match, against England at Edgbaston in August.

Renshaw and Bancroft could also force their way into Ashes calculations with strong starts to the county season, while Usman Khawaja boasts a strong record at the top of the order as well.

Harris gave himself a rating of six-and-a-half out of 10 for his maiden summer as a Test opener, scores of 79 and 70 against India the high points of a campaign that yielded 327 runs at 33 from six Tests.

Harris caps innings with Test-best

And he's comfortable that the end of the JLT Sheffield Shield competition as well as the Australia A matches in June and July will give him adequate opportunities to retain his Test spot for the Ashes.

"I know if I make some runs, that stuff will look after itself," he said. "There's plenty of water to go under the bridge.

"I missed an opportunity in the Sri Lanka series, but that's cricket. Sometimes that's the way things go.

"I put myself in a position to make some big runs on a few occasions. I had a few really good partnerships and while it was disappointing not to get a big score, hopefully I'll learn from that and it'll hold me in good stead.

"If someone said to me at the start of the summer that I'd play six Tests and win a series, I would have told them to get stuffed. It was great to be a part of it and great to be around that group and learn so much."

Ashes a long way away for Harris

Harris conceded the mental strain of playing Test cricket took more of a toll than he expected and became apparent to others before he noticed it himself. 

"I worked out towards the end of the summer how tiring it can be playing Test cricket," he said.

"(Victoria and Melbourne Renegades coach Andrew McDonald) said he could tell that I was tired, and I didn't even realise until a bit afterwards.

"Going back to the Big Bash for a week in between Test series and then the two Tests against Sri Lanka, you're just not as sharp. You're not so much physically tired, more mentally tired.

"But having played Test cricket now, going forward I think I'll know how to manage my time a bit better and prepare."

Harris will play the remainder of the KFC BBL season for the Melbourne Renegades this weekend before returning to red-ball cricket – against the English Dukes ball – in the closing rounds of the Shield competition.