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April 2, 2012
Ryan Harris may be in for quite a shock come Saturday. Despite taking four wickets and posing all the most awkward questions for the WICB President's XI on day one of the tour match at the Three Ws Oval in Barbados, Harris remained steadfast in the belief that he is behind James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle in Australia's pace calculations for the first Test.
Though his straight, skiddy and swinging method seems ideally suited to the slow, dry surfaces of the Caribbean, Harris reckons himself a reserve option for the Tests. Having watched his display on Monday, the national selector John Inverarity, the captain Michael Clarke and the coach Mickey Arthur may now be inclined to surprise Harris by calling him up at Kensington Oval.
"In a tour game it's always good to get wickets but I still feel Patto, Sidds and Hilf had a great summer," Harris said. "As I said when I left I only got a game because Patto got injured and he bowled well again today. I still think that they'll start but obviously I want to put as much pressure on them as I can and by taking some wickets I think I've done that. If I play, I play. We've got to pick the best three quicks to bowl the West Indies out and whatever it takes to win Test matches, that's what I want.
"We all bowled well. We bowled them out for 201, we all bowled well, the guys bowled quick which is good and all good areas and swung the ball around. Everyone is continuing their form with what they bowled in the Test series in Australia and I think that's what our goal is. If we do that I think we showed against India, who are a pretty good team, if we do it over here we'll go alright."
Australia's pace bowling marker under the current regime was first laid down by Harris in Sri Lanka last year, when he bowled a suffocating line and full length to a confound the hosts capable batsmen and set Clarke's team up for a 1-0 series win. The similarities between the subcontinent and the West Indies are not lost on Harris, nor any of the bowlers under Craig McDermott's watch.
"I'd like to think so [conditions are similar], that's probably the thing that is in my favour," Harris said. "I bowled reasonably well in Sri Lanka and they are very similar to be honest - probably even a bit more grass on them [the pitches] in Sri Lanka. Performing like I did over there helps but it's obviously different over here.
"There's no grass on them but they're a bit firmer. Patto with his bounce is going to go through more and same as Sidds and Hilf with the new ball. We're using different balls over here as well, they're likely to swing a little bit more so that's going to help Hilf."
When he wasn't bowling on day one, Harris spent some time observing the two spinners Australia have on tour. Michael Beer may not have the Test incumbency enjoyed by Nathan Lyon, but the the left-arm spinner shaded his counterpart on a pitch that required the ball to be dug in from height, rather than looped down in Lyon's favoured manner.
"He's had a very good summer as well," Harris said of Beer. "He's worked bloody hard on his bowling. Even today he had a guy going after him and he was able to make those sorts of adjustments to stop him from hitting over his head.
"One wicket was a half tracker ... [but] that happens, that's just frustration, him building pressure and the batsman being frustrated. He thoroughly deserves to be in the squad, no doubt about that. He's putting pressure on Nathan as well, that's their little duel. Probably not here, but I reckon the other two Test venues I think there could be a chance of playing two spinners. He's bowling well, he had a good summer in Australia and he deserves his spot and he deserves if he gets the opportunity to play in the Test match.
"Nathan's had a pretty good summer as well, but Beery's been breathing down his neck the whole summer. That's the good thing about this whole squad at the moment, there's so much pressure on us to perform, and if you don't you're probably going to miss out, which is exactly what you want."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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