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December 30, 2013
Not only does Australia's bowling coach Craig McDermott expect Ryan Harris to be fit for the final Ashes Test as part of an attack unchanged all series, he is equally adamant a rich next generation of pace bowlers must be raised with the expectation to do the same.
Despite valid concerns about Harris's creaking joints, there is a strong sense of pride among Australia's Ashes winning team about going through the five Tests without requiring extra assistance.
To lose one or two players from the final hurdle to a 5-0 sweep of England is not a possibility anyone wishes to countenance, even as a nod to the demanding South Africa tour that follows in February.
Looking further into the future, McDermott wants the likes of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins to be schooled in the art of playing through pain. As Brett Lee once pointed out, bowling is seldom painless, and it takes some years of experience to differentiate between "good" pain and "bad".
Though he developed a somewhat unkind reputation for missing matches due to outlandish injuries in his own career, McDermott still pushed through no fewer than five series of five Tests or more over the course of 71 matches, also playing every Test of the Australian summer on six occasions. His view of preventative resting is dim.
"It has been around a long time where players can actually play five Test matches in a row. That's not a new thing," McDermott said. "We have to work hard with our younger bowlers to make sure they can play full series as well when they get the chance. That's something we need to be mindful of with our younger bowlers. I'm looking forward to the same three guys playing all three Tests in South Africa once this one's done.
"Sidds has done it before so it hasn't been a problem for him through New Zealand and India series. Mitchell is as strong as an ox. Ryano was probably the only person who we had to try to manage. The medical staff have done a great job with managing Ryano, and Lyano is going to get through isn't he?
"It has been great to have all four bowlers involved and bowling in great partnerships, just like our batters. Sometimes Mitchell has got a lot of wickets but the other guys have created the pressure at the other end and picked up vital wickets."
The Australian selectors are open to the possibility of making up to three changes to the Melbourne team, with Alex Doolan, James Faulkner and Nathan Coulter-Nile all waiting in the wings. But McDermott was unperturbed by Harris's chronic knee trouble nor Shane Watson's groin strain, feeling both had pulled up well enough from the MCG match to carry on.
"There's a number of scenarios we can talk about," McDermott said. "My first and foremost scenario is to have those three guys ready to go. I think Watto will be fine because his running between the wickets yesterday suggests so, he bowled in our second innings and although he wasn't super quick, nor was Tim Bresnan.
"I'm more concerned about our guys obviously, but I don't think there's going to be any dramas with Watto coming up whatsoever. Ryano's a bit sore I suppose. But I don't think anybody's played too many Test matches as a fast bowler without pulling up sore at some stage. I'm confident they'll all be involved in the next Test match."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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