Marcus Harris shines on Day One at Taunton
5 September 2022
Marcus Harris hit his third LV= Insurance County Championship century of the season as Gloucestershire controlled the first day of their Division One relegation battle with arch-rivals Somerset at Taunton.
Invited to bat first on a benign Cooper Associates County Ground pitch, the visitors ran up 320 for six, Harris leading the way with 159, off 263 balls, including 17 fours and a six.
Ben Charlesworth contributed 56 to an opening stand of 126 with the Australian left-hander, while Ollie Price weighed in with 52 against a Somerset attack featuring Pakistan off-spinner Sajid Khan, making his debut.
He found little assistance from the first-day wicket, while the seamers struggled for movement off the pitch or through the air.
Somerset skipper Tom Abell must soon have been questioning his decision to field as Harris and Charlesworth coped comfortably with the new ball and scored at will on both sides of the pitch.
Charlesworth was the more aggressive of the pair, striking 8 fours in moving to a 79-ball half-century, while Harris was content to be patient in support of his younger partner.
Sajid was introduced from the River End with the total on 58 and gave Harris his one moment of anxiety, on 33, when he survived a sharp chance to George Bartlett at short-leg.
Gloucestershire’s opening pair brought up the hundred stand in the 29th over and by lunch had taken the score to 115 without loss.
Harris was unbeaten on 47 and quickly moved to his fifty, off 99 deliveries, at the start of the afternoon session. Eleven runs had been added when Charlesworth mistimed a pull shot off Kasey Aldridge and directed a catch to Josh Davey at fine-leg.
The briefest of interruptions for rain followed. On the resumption, Harris hit the first six of the game, straight back over Sajid’s head.
Price brought up the 200 with a sweet back-foot shot to the cover boundary off Sajid, who was finding his first experience of a Taunton pitch a testing one.
A late cut for four off him took Harris to his 22nd first class hundred, off 174 balls, with 13 fours and a six. It had been a patient, no-frills effort.
At tea, the scoreboard read 217 for one. With 20 added, there was another brief rain-break before Price brought up a 127-ball half-century, like Harris appearing untroubled.
The 21-year-old looked bereft when aiming an extravagant drive at a full, wide ball from Tom Lammonby and edging through to wicketkeeper James Rew.
Price had helped the unflappable Harris add 125 in 41 overs and at 251 for two, Gloucestershire had the foundation for a big score.
The second new ball was taken at 272 for two and accounted for Miles Hammond with nine runs added, the left-hander edging Davey to Abell at second slip, having made seven.
Two balls later in the same over, James Bracey nicked a defensive shot to Rew and departed for a duck. And Somerset’s fightback continued when Gloucestershire skipper Graeme van Buuren was bowled shouldering arms to Lewis Gregory.
Harris remained rock-like, reaching 150 off 246 balls. The 30-year-old Aussie Test player was within eight deliveries of batting out the day when edging a back-foot shot off Jack Brooks to Gregory at slip.
Still, Gloucestershire could feel satisfied with their efforts under mainly overcast skies.
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