The departure of Ryan Harris April 16, 2008

Quantity street not so sweet

South Australia have willingly lost Ryan Harris after he refused to accept their two-year deal

Ryan Harris, South Australia's No. 1 player, is off to Queensland © Getty Images

It seems a touch crazy that struggling South Australia are happy to sit back and let their No. 1 player from last season head off to another struggling state. Ryan Harris, who was the Redbacks' best bowler with 37 first-class wickets at 29.86 and a batting aggregate of 363, has slipped the leash and will head to Queensland once he's played out the English county season with Sussex.

But the Redbacks have a strategy - of "performance-based pay" - and their coach Mark Sorell is sticking to it. He freely admits there was enough cash in the pot to match Queensland's bid, but to do so would not have been part of the state's policy.

"We're very mindful of what we're doing with the rest of our squad," Sorell said. "Moving forward we're looking at performance-based pay with our group. Ryan was our No. 1-ranked player. Given where he came from last year we believe it to be a very fair offer that we made."

South Australia refused to offer him anything more than a two-year deal that could be extended to three based on his output in the first year. Queensland, who finished last and already have a clutch of allrounders, offered three years straight up.

Harris has not been a star in the past, and he has had his injuries too, so he had previously been on a string of 12-month deals, which wouldn't necessarily have done his confidence much good and led him to offer his services elsewhere.

However, South Australia, which has been stung previously by giving long-term deals to some of their local and imported stars such as Matthew Elliott and Greg Blewett, would consider their two-year offer very generous particularly as they stuck by him during his leaner years.

Harris' loss will clearly disappoint Redbacks fans and leave South Australia's talent cupboard even barer following the retirements of Jason Gillespie and Darren Lehmann. The Victoria batsman Michael Klinger has joined the ship, plugging one batting hole, and they want the others filled by four fringe players from New South Wales, who they hope will sign by Monday. Quantity, it seems, has replaced quality in Adelaide.

Jenny Roesler is an assistant editor at Cricinfo