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December 2, 2013
Ryan Harris has insisted he is fit and ready to deliver his typically wholehearted and skilful pace bowling in the second Ashes Test, flatly rejecting all reports that he had been lined up for rest on what is expected to be a dry and unforgiving drop-in pitch at the recast Adelaide Oval.
Even with reports suggesting that James Faulkner is almost certain to start as a way to better spread the bowling load on a surface unlikely to break up easily, Harris is adamant he will not be the one to make way, as Australia hope to double the 1-0 lead they secured in Brisbane.
It is likely that Faulkner will come in place of Gabba debutant George Bailey, who indicated he would not be perturbed to be dropped after one match because of ground conditions and the national selectors keeping one eye on the third match in Perth. This would leave Harris free to attack England's batsmen once more, a prospect he shows no signs of weariness about.
"I'll be all guns blazing here as well. I'm not going to miss a Test unless I really have to. I'm here to play five," Harris said. "I had the turnaround in England and got through OK. The wickets are a little bit harder here, that's the only difference. I'm feeling good. I had a good break, the extra day from Brisbane helped. All the reports about me resting, Boof hasn't mentioned one word about me resting, which is good. I'm feeling good and ready to go.
"I will be used as normal. I don't think going into a game holding anyone back is what you do. You've got to go in and bowl as if it's your last Test, it doesn't matter how many days in between, you've got to go in 110%. If I was going in only bowling 30, 35 overs I wouldn't play because you can't have one bloke going half-hearted. It puts pressure on your two or three other bowlers. I'm going in as if I'm bowling 50 overs. I've got to make sure whatever I do between Tests I get right and feel good, and I'm confident I can do that."
Even before the arrival of the drop-in pitch, Adelaide had been known as a place where bowlers could prosper only if they adhered rigorously to the demands of the trustworthy pitch and fast outfield. This amounts to the pursuit of a disciplined line and length, not allowing the batsmen to free their arms and feast on the ground's short square boundaries.
Harris agreed the bowlers' margin for error was less in Adelaide than elsewhere, and predicted a more concerted attack on the stumps from Australia's bowlers, whether it be with a conventionally swinging new ball, or by the reverse movement offered by its older descendant later in the innings. He reckoned that England would be more likely to pitch Joe Root in to bat at No. 3 in place of Jonathan Trott, though admitting a personal preference for seeing Ian Bell come in earlier to face the new ball.
"It's a great loss with Trotty not there. It's going to be interesting to see who they put in there. Hopefully it's Bell and we get an earlier chance to get him out, that's what I'm thinking," Harris said. "Whether it's Belly or even Joe Root, they're both good players so whoever it's going to be they have got a big job to do and a big position to fill. We've got to make sure we are ready for whoever it is. It's a big loss with Jonathan not there so we have got to make sure we capitalise."
On the subject of Trott, a batsman who the Australian bowlers managed "get inside the head of", Harris expressed sorrow about his sudden exit from the series following a stress illness.
"Jonathan has gone now and I will be disappointed if anyone brings that up," Harris said. "It's not a nice thing that he's going through and all the boys have said it, we want Jonathan Trott back playing cricket. The whole world does. I know the Australian team does because he's one of their best players and we want to play against their best team.
"He has made a big decision going home and I would love to see him back playing soon. I had some good battles with him over in England and I was looking forward to continuing that here. The England team need him and world cricket needs him, he's a world class player."
Harris also accepted that Australia's angle of attack, nasty and short in Brisbane, needed to be tweaked in Adelaide, responding to the demands of the drop-in, and that the bowlers could not complaining about the toll it is expected to take on their bodies.
"We know we're going to be sore at the end of it," he said. "It's the unknown here again, this new wicket, and it's a challenge of tweaking what we did in Brisbane on those bouncy wickets. We've played enough in these conditions. Melbourne was like this for a few years. It was quite flat. We know what we have to do and what changes we have to make. It's another big challenge as a group to get our head around."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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