West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Port-of-Spain, 1st day April 15, 2012

Harris preserved, Siddle scanned


Australia's desire to preserve Ryan Harris' battered body for as long as possible was sharply illustrated by his resting from the Trinidad match following a Man-of-the-Match display in Bridgetown. Harris ended the first match of the West Indies series stating his desire to play all three Tests, but the selectors on tour decided otherwise in leaving him out for a fresher James Pattinson on a Port-of-Spain pitch likely to play lower and lower as the second Test develops.

Having performed heroically at Kensington Oval with bat and ball to give Australia a 1-0 series lead, Harris was sore but not under any particular injury cloud in Trinidad. He was left out with an eye to his chequered injury history in the hope that he will be fresh by the time the third Test of the series is played in Dominica. His omission was a significant moment in the development of a squad mentality for Australia's fast bowlers, for there could be no doubt about Harris' performance meriting his retention.

Yet instead of playing, Harris found himself taking part in lunch-time training with other non-playing members of the Test squad, in contrast to the injured Peter Siddle who also missed selection for Queen's Park Oval. Their absence created room for the left-arm spinner Michael Beer to play his first Test since he debuted in the fifth match of the 2010-11 Ashes series.

"There was no doubt with the history for Ryan but also the amount that he batted and bowled throughout that game the selectors must have thought it was good to bring a fresh James Pattinson in," the vice-captain Shane Watson said. "To make sure that Ryan is absolutely fresh and ready to go for the third Test is going to be very important. There is no doubt Ryan had an absolutely brilliant game in the last Test match so I've got no doubt it would have been a very tough decision for the selectors either way.

"I think it's the way our group is continuing to go. It's just managing individuals as well as the term can possibly manage them. It continues to be a big step forward to make sure that we get the best out of every individual. And some guys pull up differently from big bowling workloads and obviously I've been a part of that at times throughout my career. So I think personally it's a really big step forward in managing players' workloads when we are playing so much and playing back-to-back Tests consistently as well.

"It also works out well that playing two spinners in these conditions is going to be very important. This wicket is quite similar in many ways to some Indian wickets that I have batted on so it's only going to get worse. The footmarks are only going to dust up and get worse so it was a perfect opportunity to play two spinners and see how they are able to handle it."

Watson revealed that Siddle had complained of developing back soreness during the first Test, and scans had confirmed inflammation that ruled him out of the second match. Siddle now has only a narrow window of time in which to prove his fitness ahead of the final match of the series, having been kept out of limited-overs series both at home and in the West Indies in order to be at his peak for the Tests.

"In the end his back had started to get sore through the last Test match and he ended up getting a few scans to be able to find out what that back pain was," Watson said. "At the moment it's shown it's a little bit sore and there's a little bit of swelling there. Through experience I know when your back gets sore it's never a great thing.

"Hopefully in Peter's case they've been able to get it early enough that even if it's just a few days rest from bowling it settles down in a quick period of time. The one thing you don't want to do is continue to push through it ... sometimes as a bowler if you do that it can put you back a fair way with stress fractures. Fingers crossed that won't be the case and a few days' rest will mean that he's able to be right for the third Test."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on April 17, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    Some times I think more refreshing and thoughtful ideas come through in this forum than from the powers that be. Posters are 100% correct in their assertions about workloads. Two things that bowlers never used to be known for, with a few exceptions that tended to highlight the mediocrity of the others, was athletic fielding and sharp running between the wickets in long partnerships. Now a bowler does the same fielding practice as a batsman, does net time with a bat, bowling nets, bowling specific training then up to 20 overs a day and gets hounded by commentators if his pace drops. Normally, if he is stationed on the boundary he also covers more distance than his team mates too. Once bowling training was, well, bowling and if a bowler was injured he could carry it through a five test summer with no one day games and have winter off anyway. If it wasn't so much fun nobody would ever do it.

  • Merv on April 17, 2012, 10:46 GMT

    So they drop the man of the match in the first test? Unbelievable,

  • Andrew on April 17, 2012, 0:02 GMT

    @zenboomerang, further to my previous post regarding the last 4 years of Oz Test cricket, the previous 4 years we used only 11 pace bowlers (16 this last 4yrs - quality is a factor), however in the period 5 to 8 yrs ago there was only injury concerns over 36% of pacers. I considered Williams, Lee & Dizzy & Watto to have fitness concerns at that time. Even though from memory I don't recall him (Williams) being injured when a chance for the Ozzy side.

  • Roo on April 16, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    What hysterics... "Carnage in the Ozzy bowling ranks is at epic proportions"... Listening to Pat Howard describing how Oz bowling injuries are at present at an all time low compared to over the last 10 years shows how much these armchair critic's know... Johnson is back bowling after surgery for a piece of metal that was removed from his toe (been there since he was a kid) but didn't make the AIS squad... If he pulls up well after the IPL & county T20, I would considered him for the ODI's in Eng in June/July...

  • Dummy4 on April 16, 2012, 14:13 GMT

    On longevity, there are some players of modern times that certainly stick out. Courtney Walsh instantly sprang to my mind... Combining List A and First Class cricket he sent down 107,000 deliveries! With the long county seasons and careers there's just so much opportunity to bowl in England. I checked out Glenn McGrath and he clocked up 57,000 deliveries and yet was very rarely injured and had quite a lengthy career at 15 years in FC cricket. But certainly fast bowlers have to throw themselves around a lot more in the field these days and probably need to train harder and spend far more time travelling and then upon arrival may just bowl 10 overs and then three days later another 10 in another city while meanwhile Freddy would have clocked up double that and been at home each night with the missus for a bit of toad in the hole and yorkshir pudd! Not hard to see the difference.

  • Roo on April 16, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    @RandyOZ... So who is your Ashes bowling team?... If you spent the time looking at our development squads for in the near future, some of your answers would be given... I'm not sure where Ben is at with his fitness (today) but Nathan is definitely in the selectors minds...

  • Roo on April 16, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    @landl47... Its funny how people pick out one player & then compare every modern player against them... Lillee played 3 more Tests than Trueman but bowled more than 3,000+ more balls in Test conditions - yet his career was chequered with back injuries & surgery + his WSC stats are not included... Your point?... Perhaps I should compare the modern batsman & say they are all failures because they don't have a 99+ average like Bradman...

  • Luke on April 16, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    @landl47, fact is bowling is not a natural action for humans; it doesn't matter how fit you are, this is just something we weren't born to do. There will always be the odd player who gets through unscathed but there aren't many people with bodies capable of sustaining a full career without injury. Cricket history is littered with fast bowlers of all ages who couldn't maintain the pace, so to speak.

  • Roo on April 16, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    @HatsforBats :- "They might need to fly over another bowler"... Starc is also in the Test squad & I like the option of his left-arm bowling... His performances have been good & at 22 he has years to get even better... Good to see Starc is in the AIS squad this year which means a likely Aust A tour to England in July...

  • Andrew on April 16, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    @landl47 - I've wondered about that myself, (as probably many others). What I believe is causing the problems atm is workload - but not the way you might think. You used the example of Trueman, top shelf bowler. His career would of almost been totally in FC or tests, List As were probably only just being played on the County circuit in his day. The problem (IMO), is that there is so much air travel, big blokes get cramped up on planes, altitude, land, altitude, then land again. They play Short formats, which require the body to be thrown around & you are bowling at maximum capacity every match. Not saying someone like Trueman would bludge in a game, but I doubt he had the same intensity playing against a Cambridge Uni, as he would in a test. So much of the cricket nowadays is International cricket & the big boppers don't get the rest. I would say (skill & talent aside) it easier to bowl heaps of overs in a County career, than an International one. There is almost NO OFFSEASON!!!!

  • No featured comments at the moment.