Melinda Farrell in Adelaide
“Should get my old man in here. He’s doing more press than me.”
Marcus Harris‘ first press conference as an Australian Test cricketer began with a chirpy quip rather than a question and his father had indeed been a media favourite at Adelaide Oval. A debutant’s family is always of interest when they step into the limelight and both nerves and pride were evident as they watched Harris get off the mark in Test cricket with a tuck off his legs for three.
The “old man” Kim beamed with delight. His wife Sue wiped away tears. Marcus, focused on the game, remained oblivious.
“No I wasn’t aware of it,” Harris, junior, said after stumps. “Petey Handscomb came up to me and just said there was a really good picture when you got off the mark of your mum and family and all that so that was really good.
“I’ve been aware of my old man in the media, he’s been doing more media than I have been. He loves talking so it suits him down to a tee. It’s really good for them to be able to come here and experience it with me. Cricket Australia have been brilliant, they’ve been really involved in everything we’ve been doing. I’m just excited, I know they’re excited for me but I’m also excited for them to be part of it as well.”
“She would tell Marcus that he will get 20 Australian dollars for a hundred and on days that will happen my mother would hand him over the money. When he was 15, in a particular season, he hit 11 hundreds. My mother will tell him: “Marcus you are going to bankrupt me.”
Kim Harris on the role his mother played to further Marcus’ love of cricket
Kim, a talented cricketer himself, considers the pair to be a “father-son team” who often discuss the finer points of batting at great length, so it’s no surprise that he has relished every aspect of being the proud dad to a Test cricketer.
“First there was the baggy green presentation on Thursday,” Harris, senior, said. “And that is very big in Australian cricket and everybody dreams of that. The boys in Australia all dream of that. So to be there and see my son do that was special.
“It took a few takes to actually go ‘where are we? We are standing on the Adelaide Oval and 456 is his Test number and no one can take that from him. And if we had the perfect outcome, it was to win the toss and India bat first so that he can ease his way into the game. So on Wednesday night I was discussing with a friend who has flown here from Somerset that our perfect day will be India nine down at close of play on day one as we didn’t want Marcus to bat for 10 minutes towards the end of the day and we got that. And then on the second day we thought, ‘what if India can bat for 10-15 minutes but we will take first ball and that is what happened. So that was good. I thought Marcus batted well and will certainly pass that to him tonight. He knows that. But I know he would have wanted more because you do all the hard work. You play the first 20 overs and you want to work it through.”
From precocious 18-year-old with flashes of brilliance to run machine for Victoria, Marcus Harris has taken the scenic route to the national side
Like many of the Australian batsmen, Harris was able to make a start but found conditions to be testing on a pitch that has proven to be troublesome for even his more experienced team-mates. Twenty-six off 57 reads as a modest start to his Test career but there is encouragement in the fact he didn’t look out of place in the national side. Harris was one of three left-handers to fall to the guile of R Ashwin, edging onto his pad and popping the ball up for M Vijay at silly mid-off.
It was an innings that followed years of shared dreams and hard work by father and son.
“I have wrecked a shoulder throwing buckets and buckets of balls at him. I know what his strengths and weaknesses are and he has got better and better over the years.
“He has been under the radar of Australia cricket for a long time. He knows how to pick his time and which ball to pick to hit. He has shown that in the Big Bash. This is another level for him and I think he can handle that. I honestly believe that he can do it.”
One member of the Harris family who was sadly absent for Harris’ debut was his late grandmother, affectionately known as Nanna Dot, with whom he was particularly close and gave him extra incentive to score runs from a young age.
“She lived with us when Marcus was little fellow,” Kim said. “Every Saturday morning she would tell Marcus that he will get 20 Australian dollars for a hundred and on days that will happen my mother would hand him over the money. When he was 15, in a particular season, he hit 11 hundreds. My mother will tell him: “Marcus you are going to bankrupt me.” Even when he became a first-class player for Western Australia and would make a hundred, she would put in $20 in a card and write ‘to my favourite grandson’, and put it on his bed. And Marcus would tell her that she didn’t need to put $20 now as he his earning now but she would say that ‘you got to keep it as that’s the deal’. Mum passed away three years ago but, yes, they were very close.”
Harris would no doubt love to bank a few hundreds for Australia but, no matter what lies ahead in his career, he is already living out his father’s dream.
“You could say that,” Kim said. “Every dad would love to do that. But it’s his road. I am just glad that I am sitting in the back passages and knowing we are with him. I will support him all the way.”