Despite having a terrific last outing for their respective state sides in the ongoing 2018-19 Sheffield Shield, Ashes hopefuls Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris, who will be competing for opening slots, want to get their future right by focusing on the present.
Bancroft leaped back into the conversation for a Test return with a superb double against New South Wales in his first four-day game since his ball-tampering suspension expired. The 26-year-old scored an unbeaten 138 off 358 balls for Western Australia and followed it up with 86 off 263 balls in the second dig.
“I’ve played one game. You don’t earn the right after one game to achieve a feat like playing Test cricket," Bancroft said.
“I feel like I still have plenty of work to do. But it’s really awesome to be back playing for WA in Shield cricket, and I’m loving it so far."
Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw, David Warner and Usman Khawaja are few of the other players who will be considered for opening spots for Ashes, but Bancroft isn’t too bothered about what his contemporaries are doing.
“The intention of why I’m playing and rocking up to prepare is because of course I’d love to play for Australia again one day," Bancroft said.
“Whenever that is, I’ll leave that to a power greater than myself. As long as I’m living each moment to the best of my ability, everything else will take care of itself."
Meanwhile, Harris, who has plundered 770 runs at 85.55 this season, hit 95 and 174 to steer Victoria to victory over Queensland. The incumbent Test opener, however, did admit that it’s difficult not to get distracted by the prospect of a maiden Ashes campaign.
“It’s in front of you all the time, everywhere I look it seems to be coming up,” Harris said on Melbourne radio station SEN.
“All I’m worried about is playing for Victoria and winning our game next week against Tasmania and trying to get us into a Shield final.
“There’s obviously going to be an Australia A tour before the Ashes squad’s even picked. There’s plenty of cricket to be played.
“People will be in and out of form a few times I reckon because there’s still six months until that first Test, but I feel like I’m doing the right things at the moment.”
Having already featured in six Tests, Harris’ next goal is to open the batting for Australia in Ashes in England.
“After those first Tests against India and that first series, I obviously missed a chance against Sri Lanka,” he said.
“But the carrot as an Australian cricketer is to play in Ashes, and especially over in England, just with the way that is, that’s the biggest series you can play in.
“That’s my goal for the next six months and that’s what’s burning away at me. Every time I’m playing and batting, all I’m thinking about is trying to do everything right to get myself in a position to be able to open the batting in the Ashes."
Harris revealed that he received messages of support from national selectors after two solid performances in his last encounter.
“JL (Justin Langer, head coach) texted me yesterday. He’s in India (with Australia’s T20I squad), so he didn’t ring me, but I spoke to him over text," said Harris.
“He said, ‘well played in both innings, mate’. That’s pretty good coming from the coach. He doesn’t get too excited.
“The coaches all write reports from the series and give you some feedback. You’re very clear about where you stand and how you’re going. I had some good conversations with JL and (batting coach) Graeme Hick and those sort of people, so I know what I need to do.
“It’s pretty simple – if you make runs and take wickets, cricket tends to look after itself. Missing a chance against Sri Lanka, I put myself in a position where I’m going to have to score heavily (to stay in the Test team), but that’s OK.”