South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg November 16, 2011

Australia wait on 'stiff' Harris


Australia's attack for the second Test might not be decided until the morning of the match as they wait to see how Ryan Harris pulls up from Wednesday's training session. If Harris, who the captain Michael Clarke said was "stiff and sore" after the defeat in Cape Town, does not play, it will almost certainly mean a debut for the 18-year-old Pat Cummins.

Harris bowled only 24.3 overs in the three-day Test at Newlands and has had five days to recover but the Australians wanted to see how he felt on Thursday morning before confirming his place in the side. Harris, 32, has had a range of injury problems in recent years and is often seen walking laps of the ground to warm up while the rest of his team-mates engage in more vigorous activities.

"He's a bit stiff and sore from the last game no doubt," Clarke said. "He's an example of someone who needs to train today. We need to wait and see how he goes in the nets and then how he pulls up in the morning.

"As is the case a lot in any form of the game, we generally have an optional session before the game which allows the players who don't think they need to train or want to train to take that option. Generally, there's a couple of guys who need to train to see if they will be fit for the game."

If Australia were to lose Harris it would be a significant blow. Although he has played only eight Tests he is the most consistent performer in Australia's pace attack and in Cape Town last week his Test average dropped below 20 for a period. But Harris, who missed the final Test against Sri Lanka recently due to a minor hamstring strain, is unlikely to be the kind of bowler who can play every Test for Australia due to his brittle body.

Even if Harris does play, the make-up of Australia's bowling group was far from clear. Cummins still has a strong chance of becoming Australia's second-youngest Test debutant, with Peter Siddle the man most likely to miss out if Harris makes the starting line-up.

"I don't want to give too much away right now but there's certainly a chance that he could be playing tomorrow," Clarke said of Cummins.

The pitch is expected to be hard and Clarke said Australia would almost certainly play a spinner. He is also likely to back the left-armer Mitchell Johnson, who bowled superbly in the tour match in Potchefstroom but had a poor Test in Cape Town.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • wayne on November 17, 2011, 6:59 GMT

    @jonesy2 - is Balaji Rao suffering soreness? You mentioned best bowler in the world, right? On a serious note, it's incredibly frustrating to see our best bowler constantly battling injury. I know it's an ongoing issue that will never be completely resolved, and it's a real concern every time he bowls that he might break down. Any chance Andy Bichel might select himself for Jo'burg? I think I could be happy with that!

  • Gordon on November 17, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    If Siddle is going to get dropped like everyone says he will well then if Harris is not playing he wouls obviously replace Harris I am guessing. I want Johnson to be dropped for Cummins and Siddle still in the team because he can add some handy runs down the order as well and he is rather experienced Mitch Johnson has not been able to bat for a long time. In the shield game going on now with Queensland Vs NSW it looks like Doug Bollinger has gotten injured again but if he was in this squad for Australia he may or may not have avoided injury. I am sick of injuries as well as far as Australian Cricket goes you have Shan Watson who is prone but ok at the moment and now you have Ryan Harris.

  • Bryn on November 17, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    it would be a major devastation to lose the best bowler in the world because of "soreness". hope he pulls up ok

  • Randolph on November 17, 2011, 3:31 GMT

    I am sick to death of our injuries. What are the fitness staff doing? Where is the accountability? The dimwits in the fitness coaching centre need to be made accountable for their blatant overworking of players. Lets start focussing on skill for once!!!

  • Andrew on November 17, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    I am sick to death of the injuries! Anybody would think that Cricket had become a full-contact sport! At the moment our recent injury list reads - 1. Marsh, 2. Voges, 3. Paine, 4. Pomersbach (mental), 5. North, 6. Lynn (returned), 7. Hopes (returned), 8. Swan (returned), 9. Coulter-Niles, 10. Harris (?), 11. Bollinger. I can sort of understand Fast bowlers getting injured - particularly structural stuff as they put high stress on the joints. I understand that Harris has a degenerative problem & he is a month by month proposition - almost destined to retire from test cricket for short forms. What really gets up by nose - is the batsmen getting injured!I could understand if they get concussed by a rip-snorting bouncer - but back spasms,soft tissue injuries? I have said it before something is really wrong with the physio side of the game, I don't believe players are actually playing that much more than use to.Injuries to Clark, Lee MacGill & Jaques crippled Oz on top of major retirements!

  • Ben on November 17, 2011, 2:46 GMT

    i agree with @getaclue, stop giving the guy a hard time, he has done exceptionally well in all formats since beginning his AUS career, but has chosen test cricket over the shorter format cos he, like most Aussies see Tests as the pinnacle. @Giovaughn Wilson, if you haven't noticed, most Aussie cricketers who are regulars in the national team don't care to much for IPL, they put it behind national duty, and saying that Hussey isn't doing much for the team... hmmm... he has been our best player in out last 2 test series. and @hashabjp... Harris compared his bowling style to Steyn and gave nothing but praise to him. He wasn't saying that he is on the same page performance wise. Give the guy a break and learn to read articles properly, not just to slander anyone because of your own thoughts

  • Hector on November 17, 2011, 2:36 GMT

    Okay..I hate to say it..Harris is a good bowler..but I predicted he wouldn't play all the tests. If this was a 3 test series..or had played in the practice game? So ..he is just a "how long is a piece of string bowler...and we know this is a very short piece of string!" Okay, Johnston has to go....mathematics tells us he will be crap this game. He bowled well 2 games a go so he is not due to hit the pitch until mid 2012 at the earliest. I think we have to go with Copeland, Cummings and Siddle. On paper, this looks like a good bowling attack, so long as Copeland can bend the ball and Siddle focuses on being a top number 3 bowler....which he is more than capable of doing. We just have to hope old terra cotta gloves doesn't grass too many chances and shatter their confidence. I'll predict if we go with this attack they will perform..HOWEVER..Our batting lineup won't. We simply have too many flashy batsman. Pete Siddle..if you read have to play as an allrounder- DO IT!

  • Ben on November 17, 2011, 2:05 GMT

    what is with you people & talking about Huss hasn't done much for the test side recently, have you actually watched australia play test matches in the past 12 months?? man of series in SL, easily our best batter in the ashes & because he fails twice in one test, it's time to drop him, completely ridiculous.... we still need some experience & stability in the middle order & Huss brings exactly that, get a grip of the situation & speak facts... & getaclue is spot on, who care's about IPL & ODI cricket? it's pretty obvious Harris doesn't really, we have talent who can play in our ODI team & 32 is old? news to me, want him to retire to give other guys a chance when he is our best bowler, we need Harris in our bowling attack at the moment as he's the only bowler whom looks consistently dangerous, some of our fans need to get a grip!!

  • Satish on November 17, 2011, 1:25 GMT

    Whenever he is fit, he MUST be an automatic selection.. Probably only pure bowler in form for the Aussies(Other being Watto)

  • Matthew on November 17, 2011, 1:18 GMT

    Giovaughn, maybe Harris wants to play test cricket more than IPL? And he's consistently bowling a lot better than Johnson, Siddle and Bollinger. Plus his test career started late, of course he wants to play as many tests as possible before his body can no longer do it.

  • No featured comments at the moment.