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March 24, 2010
Ryan Harris has decided that it's called Test cricket for a reason. Harris bowled 41 overs in his debut match, most of them into a Wellington wind that was so strong that it tipped over the pitch roller. He was in the field for four days in a row, which is tough for anyone, especially a man who had played only one first-class game for the summer.
Little wonder that Harris was stiff and sore the day after Australia secured victory, but despite having only three days between matches he is certain he'll be refreshed in time for Saturday's second Test. Taking six wickets for the match and grabbing three important victims on the final morning helped his mood considerably, although the team's celebrations were subdued.
"I am pretty tired," Harris said on Wednesday. "I haven't played many four-day games [this year] and to do it in those conditions, they were pretty tough conditions with the wind and everything. To make New Zealand follow on and field for nearly 200 overs was a bit of a test. I got through it, I'm a bit tired now, but I'll be right to go again on Saturday.
"I looked after myself last night, so it's a matter now of keep hydrating in the next couple of days and a bit of a run around probably tomorrow and another one on Friday and get the body moving, and I should be right. I had a couple of quiet beers but didn't go too hard, none of us did because we have another big Test coming up."
Harris said it was a strange feeling to be in the Australian dressing rooms celebrating a Test win, especially after a winter that included two knee operations. Test cricket was a goal that appeared unattainable at the time, at least in the near future, but Harris has certainly made the most of his chance to wear the baggy green.
"I sat last night having a chat with Dad and a few of the boys and we've spoken about the last few months and where I nearly was with my knee, and to be sitting there last night with the boys celebrating a Test win, it's very surreal still," he said. "I never thought I'd be playing Test cricket, put it that way. I've come a fair way and it's a great feeling, all the hard work to put it all into this and get a baggy green. It's awesome."
The immediate challenge for Harris is to back up his strong debut with a good performance in Hamilton, but the longer-term goal is to be in the mix for next summer's home Ashes series. Harris is trying not to look too far ahead but can't help pondering the possibility of playing in the battle for the urn.
"It would be pretty awesome to play Ashes wow," Harris said. "But that's a long way ahead yet. I'm worried about the next Test, obviously, and then the World Twenty20 I want to be a part of and then hopefully go to England, so there's a lot to go before that.
"If I just keep performing and taking wickets and bowling well and making it hard for the selectors when the other guys come back to drop me, then that's what I want to do. That's what we've got to remember, there are still guys to come back into the team who have done really well - Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle. If I just keep performing well and make it hard for them to drop me, that's what I want to do."
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