Australia in West Indies 2011-12 April 12, 2012

Injury-prone Harris hopes to last an entire series


Named the Man of the Match in a Test he did not think he would play in, Ryan Harris is now intent on keeping his spot for as long as his problematic body will allow. Harris arrived in the West Indies adamant that James Pattinson was ahead of him in the fast bowling queue, but the selectors' decision to choose the older man was endorsed handsomely by his efforts in Bridgetown.

Harris took two wickets in the first innings and three in the second, none more important than the swift dismissal of Shivnarine Chanderpaul by a delivery angling in from round the wicket, then moving away just enough to take the edge. These spells bookended Harris' highest score in Tests, a committed 68 not out that allowed Michael Clarke the luxury of making a timely declaration on the fourth afternoon to set-up Australia's eventual victory.

If any member of the Australian attack is likely to be rested or used carefully due to a variety of physical ailments it is Harris, but he is adamant about staying in the XI for the remainder of this series and those beyond. "I've got a perfect fitness base now," Harris said. "I've played four games back in Australia, bowled plenty of overs and got through about another 35, 36 here. Touch wood, I could fall over tomorrow and do something. I feel as if I'm going really well, feel strong and I want to be a part of this team and squad for as long as I can.

"That was one of the hardest Test matches I've played in my short career. Those conditions, bowling on that wicket was quite tough and getting to the ground this morning I was quite sore to be honest and tired. Getting through a few overs - the first couple weren't great but I felt as though I came back OK but to win a game like that after they batted for two days it's pretty amazing."

Though he is now a known and respected quantity as a Test match bowler, Harris had never previously shown an international opponent just how well he could bat before his alliances with Ben Hilfenhaus and Nathan Lyon. It was a similar story in his earlier years of first-class cricket with South Australia, early dismissals not doing justice to a neat technique. Clarke gave Harris a promotion to No. 8 in the second innings in recognition of his form, and Harris would like to stay there.

"We wanted to get into a position where we could win the game," Harris said. "I was lucky enough to be out there and spend some time in the middle. I've been well overdue for some runs at this level, I've had a couple of opportunities. I feel myself getting better. I spent, as Michael said, plenty of time in the nets, it was just good to be able to contribute with the bat when it was needed.

"The partnerships that I had with Hilf and Lyon and even [Matthew] Wade at one stage, we had a goal of about 150 runs for the tail and we got 151. That was what we were focused on. Whether I made 40 of them, 10 of them or 100 it didn't matter as long as we got that goal. "We knew if we got that we'd be in a strong position. I thought the declaration where we were weighing it up out there, how many overs we wanted and Michael took the initiative and pulled us off which I thought was good. That last over, I couldn't score so we were probably wasting time. It shows now we needed that bit of time and we had that because of that declaration."

Clarke and the rest of the team are unabashed in their fondness for Harris, his honesty and unrelenting effort. Having now contributed to numerous Test match wins for Australia, Harris wants to keep doing so for as long as he possibly can.

"I think Michael and the coaching staff have known what I can do, it's probably doing it more and more consistently. I think that's my goal and that's what I hope to do over the next Test in the next year or two, however long it is.," he said. "That's my goal and I want to be a part of this set-up and this squad for as long as I can.

"Touch wood my body holds up. Being a part of this squad and especially on days like today and in that dressing-room is something you never want to give up. All I'm trying to do is consistently take wickets or bowl to the plans we need to bowl to and if I keep doing that I'm doing my job."

Edited by Kanishkaa Balachandran

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajaram on April 15, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    By resting Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris for the second Test,Australia have not only demonstrated their faith in James Pattinson,they have shown their Workload + Injury Management Skills.Also by taking two spinners. For the third Test,either Lyon or Beer will be rested,Hilfy will be rested, and Pattinson,Siddle,Harris will take the field.

  • rob on April 15, 2012, 12:02 GMT

    I was critical of Harris in the one day series against India and Sri Lanka. He was a bit injured as it turned out later, .. again. Poor bloke, he's a more than handy bowler but can't take a trick. .. it's a ding-dong battle between him and Pattinson isn't it? .. Patto is also a decent bat who, with a few more shots, could conceivably score a Test ton. .. on the bowling side I think Harris is the tighter of the two. Not that Pattinson is no good. Just hasn't quite found his groove yet. .. I think Pattinson could inflict some serious damage across all sides in the years to come, .. as an all-rounder. .. I reckon there is a reliable late order hitter lurking in him but he is too scared to do it at this point in time. .

  • Randolph on April 15, 2012, 4:26 GMT

    @Meety - dont worry about @landl he is a fair weather supporter who went missing for the entire time of englands 4 straight defeats.

  • Andrew on April 15, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    @Raga Vijayshankar - I understand what you are saying but since Warne retired most of Oz's pace bowlers, (bowlers who have payed more than 15 tests), have spent large periods of time with 30+ averages. The Oz way is to have variety & it has worked pretty well over the last 130+ years. 3 pacers + a spinner (preferably a leggie), & prefer to have at least one pacer as a leftie. That is the underlying blueprint that has shown Oz to have the historically best win/loss recored over time. Even now in a "rebuilding" period - our win/loss is better than most countries ever get anywhere near. @Jono Makim - fair enough, IMO, the difference though is not vast & any slip ups along the way, they could drop to 3rd in no time.

  • Brendan on April 14, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    Like your comment Matt Wallace, under Billy`s tutelage, Sid Vicious has become the leader of our pace bowling attack. Yes, we all know he can bowl express up to 158 kmh, and scare the be-jesus out of opposition batsmen, but he can also bowl spells of mid 130 to mid 140 kph, consistently, strangling the opposition scoring rates. He has learnt when to bowl flat-out, when the team needs it, and bowl a containing spell, when the team needs it. He is also a great bloke, and very affable person, good on him.

  • Kendal on April 14, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    @Matt make a fair point re the NZ batting line up, but it's annoying that people insist a good bowling performance doesn't count when achieved on a seamer friendly wicket. And calling Siddle a workhorse was not an insult, what I meant was he has a huge heart and will run in all day for his skipper while still being a Test class bowler, able to take top order wickets. I think his current ranking is 7 so he's up there, i guess I just over-reacted to jonesy calling him the best in the world. should have just laughed !

  • Dummy4 on April 14, 2012, 6:22 GMT

    Benkl, Hussey, poor with the bat, are you kidding or what? He won all 3 MOM awards in Sri Lanka. He played an absolute gem to all but take the Aussies home in Barbados. He is our 'Banker' at no.6.......... @Others... Probably no shame in thinking England would have an extended run at the top. They may very well still do so, they would perhaps play 15 to 20 % of their cricket in the subcontinent so to remain no.1, that's not where it starts and ends. They also ended up squaring the series in Sri Lanka, which is just about as well as most teams do. It is still going to be very difficult to contend with their depth of bowling attack and they have 3 world class bats in Cook, Trott and KP and a batting order that goes very deep. They probably need to find an opener and a no.6 but some of the teams chasing them are looking for 3-4 batsmen.

  • Dummy4 on April 14, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    @Meety: Lyon may have a better record than other spinners but my point was the comparison of any Aus spinner since Shane Warne (not restricted to Lyon alone) with the Aussie fast bowlers. I am not comparing Lyon/any Aus spinner with other team's spinners. I feel that Aus fast bowlers have almost always outperformed the lone spinner. Hence it might serve Australia better if they pick a fourth quick in their eleven.

  • Ben on April 14, 2012, 0:56 GMT

    Non performer like Ponting ?? He was the 2nd best performer in the last series.... and he got run out in this one.... His record since stripping the captaincy has been good.

    If your looking for poor performers with the Bat you would be looking at Marsh ( dropped), Haddin (dropped) , Hussey( Great SL , mid SA , poor home) , Watto ( good bowling , poor batting)

  • Andrew on April 13, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    @landl47 - sorry - but I agree with peterincanada, I also recall you talking about England remaining #1 for 5 years, & you went on to say that it would be about the same time it would take for Oz to get back up on its feet!!! As for Ozzys making the CURRENT England side, do yo ubase that on LAST YEARs home form or this years UAE & SL form? Currently there might be two or three Poms that MAY make the Oz side! LOL! @Ragavendran Vijayshankar - on the topic of Lyon, he has an ave of 31, compare to other recent spinners - H Singh 32, Ashwin 34, Ojha 34, Panesar 33, Shakib 31, Vettori 34, Tahir 37, Herath 32, Randiv 40, Bishoo 39, Benn 41. I admit I left out the only 3 recognised spinners in the world who have a better average. Let it be known though, Lyon has had only 3 tests against teams who were at the time below Oz on the rankings, two of the tests he played against NZ were on seaming pitches, one saw NZ "rest" Vettori! Lyon has a lot more promise than some "experts" think.

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