One of Australia's incumbent Test openers has scored more runs in first-class cricket since the team last played a Test match than any of his countrymen. He's made 995 runs in 14 matches, averaging 49.75, with four centuries.

It's not David Warner, who has played just one first-class match since the Gabba Test against India. It's not Will Pucovski, who has not played a single game of cricket since he dislocated his shoulder in the new year's Test in Sydney and won't play in Victoria's first Sheffield Shield game this season due to another concussion.

It's not Joe Burns, who was dropped for the Sydney Test and has played just six matches since. It's not Matthew Wade, who opened in the first two Tests of the series despite never opening before in his 14-year 156-game first-class career.

And it's not Usman Khawaja, who is being discussed as an option to open in the first Test of the upcoming Ashes, having opened just three times in his last 28 first-class innings since the 2019 Ashes tour, for scores of 30, 4 and 2.

Marcus Harris hasn't yet played a game this summer, but his deeds in England this winter for Leicestershire seem not to be at the forefront of minds, and he chuckled when he was reminded that he is in fact one of Australia's incumbent openers.

"It was a difficult summer last year just with the way that the opening position kept rotating so there's always going to be speculation," Harris told ESPNcricinfo. "It's good to talk about from a media point of view. Personally, and privately in speaking to selectors, I know what they think and I know they probably have looked back on my work over the last period of time and I think that will hold me in good stead going forward. I know I've been a consistent performer for probably five or six years now in Shield cricket so I'm confident if I get the opportunity I'll be fine.

"But that's the tough thing about playing for Australia. The opportunities are limited. You've got to take them when you get them so that's what's been hard, as I've sort of been in and out a little bit. But I think the people and the powers that be understand and they sort of know how hard it can be.

"Going to England was a big part of my vision for going forward, being able to play a lot of cricket and putting numbers on the board."

Harris has been in regular contact with coach Justin Langer over the winter but more importantly had a fruitful conversation with Australia's chairman of selectors George Bailey last Friday. He was reassured by Bailey that despite the annual media rumblings of a "bat-off for places" in the lead-up to the Ashes, that his larger body of work will carry more weight, particularly as Victoria and New South Wales have not played a single match so far this summer due to the Covid lockdowns, while other states have already played two each.

"It is really good [to hear that]. I think it's like with any sport, it's good for stories and stuff like that," Harris said. "But you know that at the end of the day the people that are picking the team are looking at the bigger picture rather than a smaller bit of work."

When you come in and out of a team you can put a lot of pressure on yourself knowing that this might be your only chance so that can be hard to play with that pressure

Harris made 655 runs in eight games for Leicestershire, scoring three centuries including a stunning 185 not out in a successful fourth-innings chase of 378 against Middlesex. Harris loved the experience so much he signed a two-year deal with Gloucestershire to play all three formats over the next two seasons after only playing two with Leicestershire.

"The best thing for my development was to go and play over there in the winter and keep playing cricket rather than playing home seasons here then not doing much for a couple of months," he said. "I think at this stage of my career I've got to keep playing all the time so it's been beneficial no matter which way the season goes here, just for me as a cricketer to be able to play over there in different conditions."

Harris' experience in the 2019 Ashes in England, where he made just 58 runs in six innings, could have easily scarred him. But he viewed it as a pivotal learning moment.

"It wouldn't have seemed like it at the time, but it was such a good learning experience playing in that series," he said. "Sort of knowing that you might be able to play one way in Australia but that might not always suit the way you're going to have to play in England.

"I think the good thing as well being in Leicester and being by myself with different coaches, is you work everything out for yourself and you have to work it out on the run a little bit. And equally as the pressure of being the overseas player, you're expected to do well so you have that pressure on you. But I enjoyed that.

"County cricket is very different to Shield cricket. The bowlers are different, the batters are different. They're very good in their conditions and so you've got to try and find a way to make your game suit that, which I enjoyed."

The key now is for Harris to convert those experiences at Test level if he can get a consistent run at it. He has shown glimpses, including his second-innings 38 at the Gabba, that he is capable of being Australia's long-term solution at the top of the order.

"When you come in and out of a team you can put a lot of pressure on yourself knowing that this might be your only chance so that can be hard to play with that pressure," Harris said. "I enjoyed in that second innings that we had to score quite quickly, that sort of suited me a little bit, so I learned from that.

"If I get another opportunity, I can try and take that pressure off myself, which is easier said than done, but just go out there and look to score and put runs on the board will probably suit me.

"I sort of feel like in first-class cricket it took me a little while, it probably took me 20 or 30 games, probably more, 40, to understand and believe in myself. But as I've got older, I sort of know that if I can get a good run, a few games, I feel like I could do the same thing in Test cricket.

"That's all it is really, a bit of self-belief and proving to yourself and proving to people that you can do it."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo