Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day September 2, 2011

Hostile Harris gets reward

Ryan Harris gave nothing away in Sri Lanka's first innings. He has received plenty in return so far in the second. Harris scooped 3 for 24 on day three as Australia closed in on a deserved victory, and rightly viewed his success as the reward for consistently hostile and accurate bursts, with both the new ball and the old.

Figures of 8-5-6-0 on the second day helped create much of the pressure that the spin debutant Nathan Lyon exploited, and Harris discovered his luck was further in the next day, when he started with a punchy 23 batting at No. 9. Taking the new ball after Australia were bowled out for 210 to set Sri Lanka a target of 379, Harris pinned Tharanga Paranavitana lbw first ball, and nearly had Kumar Sangakkara the same way with his next one. Both calls were marginal.

"It's good reward," Harris said. "I knew I wasn't far away in the first innings so I just wanted to do the same thing today and got some wickets, so it's very rewarding."

"I know the first one, to me, was out. I obviously didn't know where it pitched, but I swung it back in and that to me was dead, but obviously being told it wasn't, it pitched outside leg stump, and the second one maybe was closer. One of those things."

Australia's bowling has been outstanding for tightness, immaculate length and the consistency across the attack, fulfilling the wishes of the new bowling coach, Craig McDermott. Harris said the importance of the right length and the use of pressure had been paramount.

"That's what we tried to do, we planned that before we came over and we've been talking a lot about that as quick bowlers that's what we want to do," Harris said. "The wickets are pretty flat but the natural variation in the wicket is going to help us. With that old ball, I love bowling with the old ball, bowling in and out swingers and that sort of stuff.

"Shane Watson, the length he bowled in their first innings was great, and today with that ball to Sangakkara, that is what we're trying to do, exploit all those different conditions and hopefully the ball plays up for us."

Harris added his name to those of Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting in calling the pitch the driest he has played on, and described the clouds of dust that sprang up when one of the pace bowlers slammed their front foot down on the crease.

"It is probably the driest. I haven't played on too many of those myself," Harris said. "I've been to India a few times, seen Kolkata which is pretty dry, but that one I haven't seen too many like it. With the footmarks and the holes that have formed and all the loose dirt, I think every time you see someone land and bowl there's a dust storm almost. So it's something I probably haven't seen before, and batting, I haven't really batted in those conditions. So it was a bit of learning out there, as well as trying to score runs, so it was interesting."

Australia are on course to resoundingly win their first Test since the loss of the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG in January, and Harris said the time in between had been well spent.

"It's no surprise, we just didn't play well in the Ashes, full stop, and we lost them," he said. "But we've done a bit of planning since then and forgot about them and worried about this Test series and the build-up to the next Ashes series I guess. That's the ultimate thing, but we've got a fair bit of cricket to play between now and then.

"For us, it was just trying to get back to playing well and consistent I guess. There's a few young players in the team, so get them involved and get them into the culture and get them performing, and that's what we've done so far."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Marcio on September 3, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    Harris is a very, very good bowler, and always impresses at any level and format of the game. He's quick and straight, and moves it off the deck. He and Copeland give the AUS attack the tightness and control it really needs. This also takes the pressure of Johnson, Watson and Lyon, who can come on and bowl in an attacking way. It's not a superstar attack, but it is very well balanced.

    Anyway, I hope Harris can stay fit for a few more years. He'll be a great asset to have as new guys like Mitchel Starc and Josh Hazzlewood come into the team.

  • Adarsh on September 3, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    @crazyolme are u kidding me? Usman may have not scored a fifty in his first four innings but he has been very consistent and played a lot of balls. His partnership with Hussey was invaluable in the first innings and his defence in the second was one of the reasons for such a large total.

  • ashley on September 3, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    I seriously cannot understand why ppl keep talking about shaun marsh, his stats are mediocre at best ave of 37, only 6 centuries in 112 innings, he's been around for ages and had all the tutoring and mentoring humanly possible, there is no room for growth and still very modest average. what am i missing, meanwhile phil hughes ave 56 is berrated, i don't care how good your technique is you gotta score runs. the best way to predict the future is by the past, and that's how selection should go. I like the balance of the team for first time in years, doing well.

  • Dummy4 on September 3, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    You need to find a Team like Sri Lanka to do this in TEST cricket.. SL team is really week. No proper captain, No proper coach... Can't expect better than this..

  • Basil on September 2, 2011, 23:08 GMT

    A great Test by our best quick. People keep calling for youth, but what thet don't understand is that players peak at different ages. Harris is 31 and been around for a while, but it's really only been the last three years that he has really excelled. He's just a late peaker, and as long as he keeps bowling like this he should be leading the attack no matter the age. I love the way he is just constantly at the batsmen. Along with MJ, Copeland, and Watto, they compliment each other so well. This is the best balanced attack of fast men that we have had for four years.

  • Bryn on September 2, 2011, 18:24 GMT

    crazyolme ---- i agree and disagree with you. usman is brilliant and one of the most talented batsman there will be and will be in the team for a long time, but the same goes for shaun marsh, for now, these two just have to continue to maintain form and challenge each other to be in the test team. as far as my boy harris goes. he is an absolute jet. wrap it up tomorrow ryan and continue your awesome form along with the other bowlers!!

  • Selwyn on September 2, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    This team is good but will be stronger without Usman. At number 6 you need a Gilchrist like batter and let's face it, that's not Usman. Now that Haddin is woefully out of form and his replacement Tim Paine nowhere close to being as swashbuckling, I feel it's high time teh selectors showed some faith in Shaun marsh.

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2011, 14:43 GMT

    now its time to deliver by the youngster. i'really impressed the way khawaja bats in this match and prety much confident that he'll also scores in three figure soon. the imaculate line and length from the australian bowlers also show how they really want to win, improve, and hungry to reach the number one spot. the captancy of clarke also shown the fresh mind and maturity. now slowly remove all the aged players to build young team.

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