Ryan Harris' Test chances improve again
Queensland 254 & 0 for 2 need 212 runs to beat Tasmania 196 & 271 (Paine 74, Cowan 65, Harris 4-68)
Ryan Harris continued to impress ahead of the Ashes by claiming nine wickets for the match, but Ricky Ponting fell for 5 as Queensland held the upper hand in Hobart. Ponting was an early casualty, playing on to Scott Walter, before Harris added 4 for 68 to his first-innings 5 for 72 in a stunning return.
It was Harris' first Sheffield Shield game back following a disrupted recovery from knee surgery, but he put himself in the frame for the first Test squad, which is named in Sydney on Monday. In a strange move, Cricket Australia has said Harris will be in Sydney on Tuesday for an Ashes function alongside Doug Bollinger, another strong contender for the XI.
However, instead of an indication of the Ashes line-up, it might just be a stop-off for Harris on the way to Hobart. At the very least he will be a huge chance to replace Mitchell Starc in Australia A's side to face England from Wednesday.
Starc broke down with a side strain playing for New South Wales on Thursday. Harris has out-bowled all the major contenders for the national outfits but has had the advantage of operating on a Bellerive Oval pitch that has assisted the fast men.
Harris' haul helped knock over Tasmania for 271, leaving Queensland chasing 214 for their opening victory of the competition. After the Bulls' first innings finished at 254 early in the day, Harris stepped up to have Jon Wells lbw without scoring. Ponting, who scored 32 in the first innings, walked out wanting a long bat, but he was undone on his 17th ball and will have one more Shield game to fine tune before the opening Test.
Harris forced an edge from George Bailey (43) and bowled Mark Cosgrove (35), finishing his collection by knocking over Ben Hilfenhaus. Tim Paine followed the opener Ed Cowan's patient 65 and ensured Tasmania would have something to defend. Paine collected a classy 74 before miscuing to mid-on off the legspinner Cameron Boyce, who finished with 2 for 52 off 21 overs.
Queensland's batting has been a concern this season, but they were helped by rain which meant they only had to face two overs. Wade Townsend and Ryan Broad will resume at 0 for 2 on the final morning.