The Investec Ashes 2013 June 19, 2013

Harris fit for his defining Ashes series


Ryan Harris will make his return to the bowling crease in Australia A's match against Gloucestershire in Bristol on Friday, as he steels himself for an Ashes campaign that looms as the defining moment of his international career.

After a carefully managed recovery from an Achilles complaint that forced him home early from the IPL, Harris yearns to make a lasting impression in the 10 Tests against England, and is equally bullish about the quality of Australia's pace bowling resources.

A much admired figure in Australian cricket, Harris has been interrupted by injury at too many junctures of his late blooming career, but the repeated setbacks have not dimmed his desire to contribute as a high class new-ball bowler, nor his value to the team when fit. At 33, he will also bring valuable experience and perspective to an Australian dressing room that has shown increasing signs of dysfunction over recent months, ever since Michael Hussey's decision to follow Ricky Ponting into retirement.

"I'm looking forward to playing and can't wait to get out there and get back into bowling, not Twenty20 style bowling but proper bowling, and getting into good spells," Harris said in Bristol. "Hopefully bowling 20-30 overs would be nice. Leaving India wasn't ideal, but getting home and getting the treatment I needed, the Achilles actually reacted really well to treatment, so coming over here and being able to bowl lots and lots of balls in the nets has been great. In saying that I've just about had a gut-full of that, I'm ready to bowl in games.

"In regards to my rehab, this is the reason why you have to get through and get back and rehab and do all the stuff. I wanted to be here in an Ashes series in England, and I want to play the one in Australia if things go to plan.

"They're the things that keep you going. And love of playing the game as well that's what's keeps you going. 'You're a long time retired,' that's what I keep being told, so there are a lot of gym sessions and stuff where I woke up in the morning and didn't want to go but had to go, had to get strong. This is the reason why - I wanted to be here for the Ashes."

A handsome record of 47 wickets at 23.63 from 12 Tests is one of the major reasons the national selectors, aware that his best is close to irresistible, have kept faith with Harris. Moving the ball both ways at high pace and with a skidding trajectory, Harris has earned occasional comparisons with the likes of Dale Steyn and James Anderson. The latter is leader of a formidable England attack, but Harris had no qualms rating Australia's pacemen in similar terms, noting their growth together as a unit.

"I wouldn't say he's the benchmark," Harris said of Anderson. "He's consistent and been so over the past couple of years, which puts him up there as one of the best in the world and he probably deserves that title. But our attack, we've got a very good attack if not better. We've got good pace and when the boys get it right we've got good consistency. James Pattinson has come back, he's been bowling unbelievably well and fast during the trial games.

"Peter Siddle's doing the same, Mitchell Starc he's another one - he's come back from injury and if he goes anywhere near what he was doing last summer, which I'm hoping, [Alastair] Cook will find it very tough facing him with those big thunderbolts going away from him. Our attack is suited for these conditions and we've got one of the best attacks in the world over here.

"The camaraderie [among the bowlers] is excellent. We're all good mates. If we have to rest someone or if someone does go down, touch wood they don't, but the guy who is stepping in can do the same sort of job. We've spent a lot of time together so we know each other very well. We hang out and eat dinner together and talk about the game together which is really good. I think it's a really healthy relationship."

As for a rash of dire predictions about Australia's likely performance in the series, Harris said recent form had given observers little else to conclude. But he was forthright in his belief that Australia's best would be good enough, and that the team was preparing as meticulously as possible for the task at hand.

"We're not worried about that sort of stuff we're going to cop that we haven't played good cricket in the past six months. We know that," he said. "We're here to play good cricket, that's why the Australia A team have been here, the Champions Trophy boys have had enough training in these conditions. We came here and acclimatised to these conditions early and that's all we can do. If we go out there and don't play our best cricket, we'll get beaten. If we play our best cricket we'll win."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Neil on June 23, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    The sub headline for this article reads "ready for "proper bowling" against gloucestershire" ......... Does anyone know when that's gonna happen?

  • raj on June 22, 2013, 11:28 GMT

    This time around its very clear that there is bit of concern in batting department. England do have an upper hand to win the ashes 2-1. They have a good team.

    Cowan and Warner need to build 100+ partnerships regularly. For Hughes i think this may be the last series or else he will be dropped.In spin department it should be Lyon and not Doherty because he is more suitable for ODI.

    Good luck to both the teams

  • Roo on June 22, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    @Moppa... I have no probs with Patto "but" he breaks down regularly & has cost us games, if anything his injury record is no better than Harris - so I wouldn't have Watto, Harris, Pattinson all together in the same team as its inviting problems... Thats why I'd drop Watto to have Harris & Siddle opening with experience against Eng, then Bird, Patto/Faulkner as the 2nd string bowlers. Starc I like but is too wayward & at times shows his nerves too much, so I'd prefer Faulkner as the lefty option. In regards to Landl, you obviously haven't read his comms on Oz from years ago - not much different to FFL today at times - its actually quite funny in that he changed his attitude after repeated replies by me, so if he wonders back to his old past I'm here to remind him...

  • Roo on June 22, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    @RyanHarrisGreatCricketer "@zenboomerang next time u reply to others' comments , do it only after reading that comment twice" + "if u want , criticise his fitness , but respect the fact that he is the best bowler"...

    Gee, you seem very misguided - I said "His fitness has never been an issue" yet you claim it is a problem... Perhaps trying to read my comms better you will add to your understanding to other comms by everyone ;) ...

  • Neil on June 22, 2013, 4:52 GMT

    @ TheBigBoodha, post match analysis is all well and good. Whether or not Australia rest players or who they select as bowlers is up to them. The facts remain that you were 44/6, and you lost the game heavily, and the series 1-0. An Aus win in Adelaide would have meant a drawn series, not a series win for Australia. As I said previously, Australia has good bowlers. Your batting is where you fall down. Realistically, if you picked a top 7 batting line up from England & Australia would you pick anyone other than Clarke from Australia? If so, who?

  • John on June 21, 2013, 14:19 GMT

    @shaggy076: I can't see any issue with Pattinson bowling 18 overs a day either, provided you want him to bowl at 135-140kph. Of course, given that he's not a swing bowler, he won't take many wickets at that pace.

    If you want him to bowl 145-150kph (and I would if I was his captain) he can't do it for18 overs a day without breaking down.

  • James on June 21, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    @oscoli67, Steyn and Morkel must be pretty ordinary if they cannot take wickets anywhere in AUS but Perth. Pattinson and co had no such trouble. Maybe you forgot that AUS changed their ENTIRE fast bowling lineup for that game. I wonder how SA would have gone if they'd done the same? And AUS only had three bowlers most of the Adelaide test, and still totally out bowled SA. Who wins test matches with 3 bowlers in Adelaide? Faf was given out twice in Adelaide, reviewed and was saved by the skin of his teeth in one LBW decision. That's how lose SA were to losing that series.

  • Phil on June 21, 2013, 11:24 GMT

    @Hammond....though I agree with the injury concerns, you described Harris as a 'medium pacer'?? I've seen him bowl consistently at 95mph. Nowadays, he hovers around 90mph - not quite express (though he is capable of it) but way faster than medium pace.

  • Mashuq on June 21, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    @landl47 on (June 21, 2013, 1:35) I don't think you're being reasonable at all! Given a first day pitch of normal play I'd think Patto could bowl 17 quick overs taking a second new ball for 5 overs. Harris could do likewise. Siddle/Bird are well capable of bowling morning, post- lunch and post-tea spells with the help of Watson (10 overs from him), say 35 overs on day one.That just leaves Lyon with 20 overs of holding up an end. Now worries. It's how Ryano pu;lls up afterwards that'll determine how much of the series he plays.

  • Geoffrey on June 21, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Harris is a decent bowler, trouble is he may break down after the first test in his second over. Outclassed by the English bowlers as well in their own conditions (and even his own conditions! in 2010/11). If Australia had an Onions or a Tremlett waiting for a chance they would get a baggy green over this tired (and yet talented) work horse of a medium pacer..