Harris tons up for Vics in Shield final
AUSTRALIAN chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns was on hand to watch Victorian opener Marcus Harris stamp his authority on the Sheffield Shield final on Thursday with a century that his team desperately needed.
After winning the toss and batting, Victoria finished day one at the Junction Oval 6-266 on the back of a masterful 141 from Harris.
The match was however mired in controversy after Victorian batsman Seb Gotch was dismissed for just two despite a clear no-ball from NSW quick Trent Copeland.
On-field umpire Paul Wilson missed it and the playing conditions didn't allow for the third umpire to overturn the decision despite the TV replays showing Copeland overstepped.
"There are no provisions for match officials to review on field decisions for the JLT Sheffield Shield in the Cricket Australia Playing Conditions," a CA spokesperson said.
"This incident will be followed up in Cricket Australia's general match review process and feedback will of course be taken on board"
Copeland also knew he was lucky.
"Thankfully "Blocker" (Wilson) was asleep on that one," Copeland said.
Gotch's dismissal left the Vics in trouble at 3-113 and while wickets continued to tumble around him, Harris further enhanced standing with a superb innings which included 17 boundaries.
Already with the first 1000-run Shield season since 2015, Harris was dropped twice but defied the NSW bowlers in a way none of his teammates could as he registered his third hundred in four games at the Junction Oval.
The left-hander, who opened in all six Tests for Australia over the summer, has been imperious since the resumption of the Shield season.
Harris has scored two hundreds and two scores in the 90s among his 662 runs at 82.75 against the Dukes ball moving most commentators to declare him a "lock" for the Ashes.
Harris continued to show his capacity to stand up in big games too. His hundred was his third in four Shield final appearances, and his average in the playoff game moved to 104.
The importance of Harris' runs grew with every Victorian wicket that fell after the home team opted to play a batsmen short.
Victorian coach Andrew McDonald went with four fast bowlers, and spinner Jon Holland. Quick James Pattinson, who has scored hundreds at second XI level, batted at number seven and made 11 not out.
"It really is an educated guess, and hindsight will tell you whether it's right or wrong," McDonald said before the game about selection.
A steady start from Harris and Victorian captain Travis Dean took the Vics to 0-67 and the shadows of lunch before Dean was dismissed.
Then after the break Will Pucovski, Gotch and veteran Cameron White came and went in quick succession.
Harris had partnerships with Matt Short (34) and Pattinson ( ) before finally being dismissed by Sean Abbott (2-77) when NSW took the second new ball.
After day one the Vics had 0.66 bonus points and NSW 0.6. First innings bonus points could decide the game if it was to end in a draw.