Australia news March 12, 2014

Pakistan Tests 'a realistic goal' - Harris


Reports of the death knell sounding on Ryan Harris' career have been greatly exaggerated. So says Harris, anyway. As he was bowling Australia to a series win late on day five in Cape Town, it was hard for outsiders to know what his international future would hold. At 34, he was due for surgery on a chronic knee problem when he returned to Australia. Would he ever wear the baggy green again?

Not only does Harris believe he has plenty of international cricket ahead of him, he believes it is possible he will not even miss a Test. Australia do not play Test cricket again until an away series against Pakistan around October, giving Harris half a year to work his way back to full fitness. Having had his operation, Harris was on crutches in Melbourne on Wednesday but said he felt fantastic.

"It's nowhere near my career over," Harris said. "I did this to prolong it more than anything. My knee is damaged - probably a little bit more damaged than the last time they went in a few years ago. But it's still a good knee. After what I've put up with in the last few weeks, I can probably put up with just about anything now. I'm already looking forward to hopefully getting back for the Pakistan tour. That's my goal, and a very realistic goal.

"It's feeling better today and yesterday than it felt before I went in. It's good relief. A couple of days after the last win and when I got home it was actually quite painful. It's been cleaned out, which is what I've been waiting for for a while. There was a fair bit in there. I saw a couple of pictures of quite big pieces of cartilage. They were a lot bigger than what I thought they were going to be."

At times in South Africa, Harris was visibly troubled by the injury and it caused him significant trouble on the flight home, when the knee locked up and would not return to normal. That led to a long, painful journey, but discomfort is nothing new to Harris. He is resigned to the likelihood that he will need a knee replacement when his playing days are over, but for now wants his surgeon David Young to do whatever it takes to extend his playing career.

"I've already told the surgeon just keep me on the park for another two or three years and we'll worry about that later," Harris said. "I'll give him his money later, it's already guaranteed. I probably am [going to need a replacement] at some stage. But again I just want to do whatever I can now to keep playing in this team and enjoying the success that we've been working so hard to get to."

Harris finished the South African tour as the No. 2 bowler in the world, according to the ICC rankings, and although it seemed impossible for him to gain any more respect, his late-afternoon efforts to finish off the South African tail in Cape Town proved otherwise. Remarkably for a man who has been in and out of the Test side with injuries since his 2010 debut, Harris has now played 12 consecutive Tests.

It was almost not the case, though. Harris said after the WACA Test in which Australia secured the Ashes, he had spoken with Young about the best plan for managing his knee, and whether to have the required surgery immediately or hope it held out until after the South African series.

"He was probably more the one that said to wait," Harris said. "He wanted to see me play out here in a Boxing Day Test and finish the series, and then South Africa. He along with [team doctor] Peter Brukner and [physio] Alex Kountouris have been amazing throughout this whole thing. They've kept me going and to have those series wins under our belt as a team is fantastic."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2014, 15:54 GMT

    Let them come to the UAE. I am sooo eagerly awaiting this. Pakistanis will find it tough against the pace but with slow and spinning wickets to be prepared, I actually see this series going in Pakistan's favor. Aussies are pretty average players of spin, to be honest they're worse than England when it comes to playing spin. They were whitewashed by a decent Indian spin attack, and the Pakistani spin bowling is on another level. This australian team's so-called comeback will be severely tested in the UAE. I fancy Pakistanis winning!!!

  • siddhartha on March 13, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    Should be a good series if Pakistan bats well

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2014, 3:47 GMT

    @ Jourdy Wongtrakun Where was M Johnson in India ? I didn't remember him performing well over there.

    Of course its a home series for Pakistan and the pitches will suit Pakistani spin attack.

  • Realist on March 13, 2014, 2:43 GMT

    I feel Australia is going to find it difficult to beat Pakistan in UAE unless they play spin well. In cricket you never know how momentum can things. Australia under Ponting has beaten SL in SL in the past and could do it again under Clarke. Clarke should lead from the front as he plays spin well.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2014, 23:29 GMT

    Australia will win coz PK batting dont stand a chance against aussies bowling.

  • Randolph on March 12, 2014, 22:57 GMT

    World's second best bowler behind Johnson

  • ick on March 12, 2014, 18:30 GMT

    Pakistan has only to play to its potential without dropping easy sitters like they did in Sydney test and semi final in 2011 wc against India. Pakistan will easily win 2-0.

  • muhammad on March 12, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    @cricketsubh, really!!!! have to admire last Australian side that had beaten Pak in UAE included greats in bowling attack. Johnson is nowhere to that league. He will be shown brutal reality in UAE. Harris will cause issues, for sure.

    I agree Aussies are favourites only if they play Ajmal and Rehman well. Ajmal is going to make Aussie's batsman dance on the wicket.

  • Channan on March 12, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    Depends on the type of wickets prepared. If they are going to be a spinners paradise. Pakistan will win. If the wickets are going to have even medium life, then, of course Australia will win. UAE is Pakistan's home grounds. Pitches will be suitable to their game.

  • subhasish on March 12, 2014, 16:03 GMT

    aus will win the series in uae harris goes or not they got gud record in uae last time they beat pak 3-0 in uae

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