Harris expects to be left on sidelines
Ryan Harris believes he will struggle to force his way into Australia's side for the first Test against West Indies in Barbados next month. Australia's Test specialists, including Harris and his fast-bowling colleague Peter Siddle, have flown out to join the rest of the squad in the Caribbean for a three-day tour match ahead of the Test series.
The warm-up game will help the selectors decide on their best attack for the Bridgetown Test, and a three-man pace attack of Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and James Pattinson appears likely after their success in the home summer. Harris and Mitchell Starc are the other fast bowlers in the squad, while the spinners Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer will come into contention on the slow Caribbean pitches.
Harris played in the last two Tests of Australia's series against India after Pattinson was sidelined by injury but he was dropped from the ODI side in the tri-series that followed. A year ago, Harris was arguably Australia's best Test bowler but he believes he will be on the sidelines for the start of the upcoming Test series.
"I don't think I will be starting," Harris told reporters in Brisbane before departing. "Sidds had an amazing summer and so did Jimmy [Pattinson]. The only reason I got a game was because Jimmy went down. And Hilf has come back to his best. If those three don't start, I will be in shock. They did such a good job against India this summer for us - they thoroughly deserve their spots over there."
Before he flew out to join the squad, Australia's captain Michael Clarke mentioned the possibility of playing both Lyon and Beer in a two-man spin attack, which is another option for the selectors. Whatever the case, the Australians will need to work out how best to operate on pitches that will be quite different from those on which they defeated India 4-0 during the summer.
"They have looked a bit slow and dead," Siddle said of the limited-overs pitches in the Caribbean. "It will be interesting to see how the Test pitches come up. You will need patience and consistency. Ryano showed that in Sri Lanka. Reverse swing will come into it as well, and we have to bowl well with the spinner or spinners - Nathan and Beery might bowl together, you never know."
The batting line-up is expected to be more settled, with Ed Cowan and David Warner likely to open and Shane Watson expected to bat at No.3. The three-day tour match against the WICB Board President's XI starts at Kensington Oval on April 2.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here