Australia news April 8, 2014

Ryan Harris given Australia A coaching role

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ryan Harris has taken an unexpected early step into coaching, having been named assistant coach of Australia A for a home series in July and August. Cricket Australia has confirmed that Harris will be the official assistant to head coach Michael di Venuto for the series against South Africa A, India A and the Cricket Australia National Performance Squad, which will take place in Darwin, Palmerston, Townsville and Brisbane.

Harris is currently recovering from knee surgery following his key role in the series win in South Africa and hopes to be available for Australia's Test series against Pakistan in October. However, the coaching opportunity with Australia A will keep Harris involved in the game during an otherwise lengthy lay-off, and he said he was excited to be given the chance.

"I certainly didn't expect or ask for this opportunity but I jumped at the chance when [CA's general manager of team performance] Pat Howard asked me," Harris told the Courier Mail. "To get this sort of position, you normally have to have been coaching for a long time so I am very fortunate.

"I am the first to admit I have got a lot to learn about being a coach. And it is not for me to go in and change things. I will just try to give the guys some advice when they need it and hopefully they can learn a bit from my experiences."

Australia's selectors have named a preliminary 21-man group for the Australia A series, including incumbent Test No.3 Alex Doolan and other fringe members of the Test squad such as Phillip Hughes, James Faulkner and Moises Henriques. The two leading wicket takers in the Sheffield Shield this summer, Steve O'Keefe and Jason Behrendorff, were named, as was the injury-prone Pat Cummins.

There was no place for Matthew Wade, who has been viewed as the backup to Brad Haddin since he was dropped from the Test team following last year's tour of India, although Tim Paine was also left out, with national selector John Inverarity declaring them both "known quantities". New South Wales gloveman Peter Nevill and Western Australia keeper Sam Whiteman were both named in the group.

"Sam Whiteman and Peter Nevill have shown excellent recent form with the gloves and the bat and thoroughly deserve the opportunity to impress at this level," Inverarity said. "Matthew Wade and Tim Paine have had considerable international experience and are well regarded known quantities. The NSP is hopeful that this international exposure with Australia A will provide Sam and Peter with invaluable experience.

"Steven O'Keefe and Cameron Boyce have performed well during the 2013-14 season and will share the spin bowling duties. Steven topped the Sheffield Shield bowling aggregate and averages with 41 wickets at less than 21 per wicket. Cameron took 26 wickets with his steadily improving legbreaks.

"The NSP is especially keen for the potential future international all-rounders, James Faulkner, Moises Henriques and Mitchell Marsh to have this opportunity to develop further and enhance their claims. Alex Doolan will be looking to build on his promising start in Test cricket and Phillip Hughes, Callum Ferguson, Chris Lynn, Tom Cooper and Peter Forrest have enjoyed productive domestic seasons and will be looking to push for higher honours.

"Mitchell Starc has recovered well from the injury which kept him out of cricket for most of the summer. He may use the Australia A program to prepare optimally for the 2014-15 season. Pat Cummins has been making pleasing progress and some appearances for Australia A will be a significant step in his return.

"Josh Hazlewood has recently taken a big step forward by taking 6-50 from 22 high quality overs in the Sheffield Shield Final at Manuka Oval in Canberra and this will give him a great deal of confidence. Jason Behrendorff and Chadd Sayers have bowled very well in Shield cricket throughout the summer. They have been prolific wicket-takers with 40 and 36 wickets respectively. Kane Richardson and Ben Cutting have established themselves as white ball prospects and will be looking to enhance their claims for selection in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup squad."

Australia A's winter begins with two four-day matches against India A in Brisbane starting from July 6, followed by a quadrangular one-day tournament in Darwin. That is followed by a pair of four-day games in Townsville against South Africa A in August.

Australia A preliminary squad Jason Behrendorff, Cameron Boyce, Tom Cooper, Pat Cummins, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Callum Ferguson, Peter Forrest, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Steve O'Keefe, Kane Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc, Cameron White, Sam Whiteman.