The Ashes 2013 April 26, 2013

Harris confident of fitness ahead of Ashes


Ryan Harris is confident he will be fit ahead of the Ashes after receiving encouraging results from scans on his injured Achilles tendon. This week, Harris was named in Australia's 16-man Ashes squad but he also flew home from the IPL due to the injury, which, if more serious, might have placed his England tour in jeopardy.

However, scans and the inspection of Cricket Australia's chief medical officer Justin Paolini showed that Harris' Achilles is not seriously injured, with an early estimate of six to eight weeks on the sidelines described by Harris as "the worst case scenario". It is more likely that Harris will be bowling again in three to four weeks, winning him time to play well before the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.

"Australia A isn't discounted just yet either," Harris told ESPNcricinfo. "I've got to do some serious rehab and the doctor's confident that 6-8 weeks is the worst case scenario - if I do things right I could be right in a couple of weeks. The good thing is there is time to get it right and then bowl some overs. I'll have something under my belt for England.

"It's very disappointing to leave the IPL because as I said from the start it was crucial for me to keep bowling, but this is something I've had on and off for a long time and it's just flared up. The last four weeks of the season in Australia it was all fine. It's disappointing to leave Kings XI, but my main priority is obviously England."

Harris had felt Achilles discomfort for some time, and initially was left out of the Kings XI starting line-up for reasons of team balance rather than his inability to bowl with the ailment. But as the team met a succession of unhelpful pitches, Harris decided in concert with the Kings XI and Queensland coach Darren Lehmann that an early flight home was the best option.

"I knew anyway it wasn't going to be too bad, purely because I played at the end of the season here and then went over to play games over there," Harris said. "To be honest the reason I hadn't played since the 14th wasn't really to do with that, it was more about the make up of the team and the wickets we were playing on.

"Boof [Lehmann] had a think about it, I was a little bit more sore than I'd been at the end of the season. So the potential of me maybe only playing another three games, we got together and thought the best thing to do would be to come home and get right."

Having spent all but the final few weeks of the 2012-13 season recovering from shoulder surgery, Harris was delighted by both the renewal of his CA contract and the public statements of the captain Michael Clarke and the national selector John Inverarity that he had a key role to play in the Ashes if fit. He has resolved to repay that faith.

"It's very rewarding to know your captain and chairman of selectors back you and have a lot of confidence in you," Harris said. "That's why it's so important for me to get fit and play as many games as they need me to play. That's me repaying them for the faith they're putting in me.

"The last year has been terrible, and getting another CA contract for me is just another chance, and there's no better series to get that second chance than in an Ashes series. I'm that keen, that enthusiastic and that hungry to get back in that series, win the Ashes back and repay them."

As for injury being Harris' almost constant companion, he admitted to wondering when he might be blessed with a clear six months in which to deliver the sort of high quality bowling that has made him respected by batsmen around Australia and the world.

"It's fair to say a few things go through my mind - someone upstairs has got to give me a decent run somehow before I finish," he said. "It's not as if I'm tearing hamstrings or calves, the things I'm doing are structural things, purely through what I do. You get to the stage where you get a niggle and push yourself through that until it becomes something else, and that's when you stop. You push yourself to the maximum every time you bowl.

"If you mindset gets negative then you've probably got to make the decision in calling it quits, but I'm not ready to do that yet. I'll do whatever I can to get right, especially for a series like England."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kieran on May 1, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Wefinishthis, I see a shield average of 32 as ok, not poor, particularly as he only plays 1-2 games a season. How's he going to go against England? No idea. But he averages 26 against South Africa so that's a good start. In fact his average has decreased with each series and was <30 until he toured India, and he is hardly the first quick to have a rubbish tour of India. How would Faulkner have gone in India? Do you think Falkner could replicate his FC stats against SA or England, two teams with plenty of 50+ batsmen playing on easier pitches? How can you look at Faulkner's stats and not keep in mind that every 2nd match he plays is on a green seamer against poor batsmen? In the end they play different roles, they're not competing for the same spot, and 9 matches is far too short a span to determine the worthiness of a 23 yr old.

  • Chris on May 1, 2013, 2:18 GMT

    HatsforBats - I'd still like to know how you can overlook Starc's poor shield performances. If he can't average less than 30 against sub-standard batting lineups and seam-friendly pitches when 20-odd other bowlers are able to like you say, how is he going to perform at test level against this outstanding England batting lineup?

  • kieran on April 30, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    @ Wefinishthis, you could hardly claim that any australian state side right now is comparable to, let alone stronger than, the international sides Starc has played against. And it is universal knowledge that shield pitches are much more seam friendly than their test counterparts. Just three recognised batsmen avg. 50+ this season, I think that classifies as sub-standard. Meanwhile 24 bowlers avg. <25 (6 bowlers avg. <20!), surly seamer friendly conditions don't you think? Starc has barely played a state game in 18 months and is averaging 34 in tests, hardly "very poor" considering the number of test bowlers going around these days with a sub-30 average. I too think Faulkner is deserving of higher honours, but he has had the benefit of consistent selection in better bowling conditions (particularly as Hobart is such a result pitch) in order to stake his claim, opportunities Starc hasn't been given.

  • Chris on April 29, 2013, 23:43 GMT

    HatsforBats - If the shield batting is sub-standard and assists seamers, then how do you account for the fact that Starc's shield record is almost as bad as his FC record? If Starc can't even perform against poor batsmen in assisting conditions he must be REALLY bad. So there's nothing facile about that comparison at all. Furthermore, Starc has only played 3 test matches outside of Australia. All of his other matches he played in seam friendly conditions (Brisbane, Hobart, Perth) against sub-standard batting lineups like NZ, SL, WI or the ageing Indian lineup at the time. He's only played 3 test matches against quality batting lineups. One was at home against SA in Perth and the other two were away vs India. Whether you look at his FC, home, away or whatever, his FC/Test record is very poor. He's one of the first ODI players picked in my books, but he is obviously not up to test standard at this time. Faulkner is far more deserving. I like Butterworth, but he is a different story.

  • Patrick on April 29, 2013, 12:39 GMT

    Harris, Patto, Bird, Starc, Sidds, helluva lot of firepower for an Eng batting line up barely good enough to draw with NZ! Amazing how some can't even remember the last 5 weeks let alone 5 years.

  • Amith on April 29, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    Good to hear, we need Harris firing

  • kieran on April 29, 2013, 3:56 GMT

    @ Wefinishthis, considering the rather poor standard of batting and the propensity of seaming conditions in shield cricket it seems rather facile to compare the respective figures of Faulkner & Starc when, as you say, Starc has played a third of his matches against international test batsmen on far less responsive pitches. Faulkner's figures are brilliant and he has had the benefit of consistent state selection with no rotation policy enforced. Starc has tremendous potential and it's incomprehensible to think that at 23yrs old that if he doesn't perform early in the Ashes tour his test career should be shelved. And given the rotation policy I'm sure Faulkner will get his chances, more chances than Butterworth wil get.

  • Chris on April 29, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    ScottStevo - Obviously we can't compare Faulkner's non-existant test figures to Starc's, but how else can Faulkner get a fair go if he's never given a chance? What we can do is compare Starc's test figures to a benchmark of an average under 30 and s/r under 55, taking into account no. games, pitch conditions and the quality of wickets taken etc. More importantly however, we can certainly compare Faulkner's FC stats to Starc's FC stats. Both have played 34 FC matches (Starc played 9 of those for Australia) and Starc averaged 32.9 in FC whilst Faulkner averaged 22.3 in FC. Faulkner led his team to the shield title whilst Starc remains a white-ball specialist. MJ is not going to be in anyone's all-time XI and neither will Starc unless he improves dramatically. If Starc can't improve in his first few games on the ashes tour, it will be pretty obvious that he just isn't cut out for test cricket. Faulkner has been far more deserving, but will likely only ever get one chance at best.

  • Scott on April 28, 2013, 23:27 GMT

    @WeFinishThis, You use a lot of stats to prove how ordinary Starc is, yet state Faulkner as our best left armer when he hasn't even played a test match. Personally, I don't think Faulkner will cut it in tests and looks more suited to the shorter formats. The selectors have faith and I'm certain we'll see him in this series, so I hope you're right... @Front-Foot-Lunge, seems you've also forgotten, mate. Prior to the '10/11 Ashes, Cook was fighting to keep his place in the side let alone take over as captain.

  • kieran on April 28, 2013, 12:58 GMT

    @ jmcilhinney, to be fair Harris would never have been pencilled in for all five tests. The plan would probably be to use Harris every alternate test or for a couple of consecutive tests, not the whole series. "If he gets it right", to be honest I think Starc could be the best bowler in world cricket; but at the moment Pattinson is the bigger threat. Right now he's more consistently threatening (admittedly less magic deliveries), quicker (Starc seems to coast on autopilot for extended periods), and he shows more intent (again, Starc goes missing at times, while Pattinson is constantly at the batsmen). I think it's going to be an absolutely cracking back to back series.

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