Australia news December 19, 2011

Ryan Harris set for BBL return

ESPNcricinfo staff

The fast bowler Ryan Harris has been cleared to play for the Brisbane Heat in Tuesday's Twenty20 Big Bash League match against the Melbourne Stars as he aims to prove his fitness for the Boxing Day Test. Harris, 32, has spent the past five weeks recovering from a hip injury that ruled him out of the second Test of Australia's tour of South Africa.

The uncertainty over how his body would handle five days of cricket is likely to discourage Australia's selectors from risking Harris in the Melbourne Test against India. However, Harris wants to give himself every chance of playing, having missed Australia's past three Tests, which gave the young fast men James Pattinson and Pat Cummins an opportunity to shine.

Cummins has been ruled out of the summer due to a heel injury, and Pattinson and Peter Siddle are expected to share the new ball against India. The third seamer's position is less clear after the left-armer Mitchell Starc struggled to grab his chances during the New Zealand series, and while Harris is a proven Test performer, his body is notoriously fragile.

He has been named to play for the Heat in Tuesday's match at the Gabba, after completing a pair of club T20 matches in Brisbane's grade competition at the weekend. Harris took 1 for 22 and 1 for 17 in the two outings, as well as snapping up a sharp catch and effecting a run-out from the infield, but it would be a major gamble for Australia to choose him for a Test with such little preparation.

Cricket Australia's team performance manager, Pat Howard, said earlier this month that rushing Harris back would not be in the long-term interests of the side. Before he suffered his hip injury during the Cape Town Test, Harris battled a hamstring strain that kept him out of the third Test against Sri Lanka, and he also has to manage a degenerative right knee.

Last summer, he was struck down by an ankle injury that required surgery and kept him from completing the Ashes series. Since his debut early last year, Harris has played only eight of a possible 18 Tests, but his record of 35 wickets at an average of 21.37 shows that when fit he is a key part of Australia's side.

With no Sheffield Shield cricket scheduled until after the end of the Test series against India, Harris will need to make his case for a recall via the Big Bash League and club cricket.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roo on December 20, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    Seems people forget that Harris is one of the reasons we won the series SL in SL... A feat not often done... The one Test we won included Harris bowling a 5for in the 2nd innings to rout out the top order batsmen... With a total of 28 / 10 / 68 / 5 - (batting 24)... Lyon 35 / 5 / 107 / 6 - (13/0 n.o.)... Watson 19 / 7 / 30 / 5 - (22)... Copeland 28 / 9 / 44 / 1 - (12/23 n.o.)... Johnson 28 / 7 / 82 / 2 - (22)... In SA it was Cummins & Lyon that did the damage in the Test win... If Harris is fit, bring him on... If Watson isn't - drop him as he has shown in many Tests that it is his bowling that is most important to Australia & not his batting...

  • Mick on December 20, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    Oh please, of course Watson should play, whether he can bowl or not (assuming he's 100% to bat). Simple question: is he in the top 6 batsmen in Australia at the moment? Like it or not, the answer is a resounding yes. If you still want an all rounder (which I wholeheartedly agree we need, barring another Hobart-like green top), someone else has to go.

  • Bryn on December 20, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    ok for all those saying give dan christian a go if watto isnt fully fit. no. dan christian is a great player and should be a big part of the limited overs teams but there is no way he is getting a test debut when we have the two brightest young allrounders in recent history in mitch marsh and james faulkner. but i do think that if watto cant bowl then yes he is not fully fit and wont be playing the role that made him the best player in the world therefore he shouldnt play especially if they are not going to risk harris. cant believe all these injuries, no matter what happens india are going to be playing against a second string side on boxing day. still back the second string side though no doubt

  • Andrew on December 19, 2011, 23:01 GMT

    @ RJHB - "... death or glory, play him NOW..." - here, here! I agree 100%, (assuming he is somewhere near fit enough to last 5 days). @ smudgeon - I think Butterworth OR Faulkner would be good options, (I'm not from Tassie) I think Test cricket is evolving towards deeper batting line ups & you really need a #8 who has the ability to score 50s reasonably regularly. The batting side of MJ will be missed (if only could land 6 balls in a row in the right spot!). Also agree that is a massive shame that Coulter-Nile, Cutting & Cummins are all unavailable atm. @VivGilchrist - I agree that if we go with 4 specialist bowlers, Copeland should be one of them. @Alan Faulkner - I think Herrick has been brilliant this season & with Oz's record at getting 5 wickets on debut who knows???? @ RandyOZ - I agree that Watson MUST be fully fit or he doesn't play. Meaning he should be able to bowl at least 5 overs a day. Dunno if Christian is the way to go - why not a spinning allrounder???

  • Mick on December 19, 2011, 22:12 GMT

    @Aidan-FX: true T20 may be taxing in it's own way but in no way does it come near the attritional strain Test cricket puts on the body. Harris has a history of workload injury and if the medics have any doubt about his ability to last 5 days it would be horribly foolish to play him in Melbourne and leave an inexperienced attack so exposed. Fact is an old, overweight Macgill can bowl in t20. I can't see him getting through two sessions of a test match.

  • Aidan on December 19, 2011, 15:21 GMT

    Whilst you can talk about the consecutive days and the amount of overs bowled by pace bowlers in a day of cricket as a factor in leaving his out of the first- second Tests ; it should be noted; that it might be true bowlers only bowl 4 in 20/20 - the common feedback from players is 20/20 is a very taxing format because its so fast. Some say it takes more out of them than a full day of 50 Over cricket - So I stand by the view he is either fit for both formats or none at all.

  • Aidan on December 19, 2011, 15:18 GMT

    RandyOZ - Yes I agree - Either be fully fit so he can be the player he is or not at all - give Dan Christian a go if they are desperate for the medium quick seamer allrounder.

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2011, 14:13 GMT

    @RJBH, for one there is a huge difference between being fit to bowl 4 overs in a game to bowling 15-20 overs a day for 2-3 days, secondly they will be saving him for the second test because they don't believe that his injuries have fully healed yet and that playing him prematurely could cause further time out of the game

  • Randolph on December 19, 2011, 12:48 GMT

    I agree with the Harris point about being fully fit. But surely the same has to apply to Watto? If Watto cannot bowl, he is not fully fit. As a result CHristian should come in for Watto and can fill the 5th bowlers shoes. Am I the only one who can see how obvious this move is?

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    I tend to think they will stick with Starc. If you look at the Shield wicketakers George is averaging 35 this season, Cutting is injured, Hogan has the most wickets but is over 30, you could make a case of McKay, Herrick or Hazelwood but none of them have set the world on fire either. Looking at Starc he bowled in an attack that did it's job and whilst he didn't stand out he didn't fail miserably either - if Harris isn't fit I get the feeling they will go in unchanged in the bowling and make one or two batting line-up changes instead.

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