Cricket - Patched up Harris ready for all five Ashes tests

Chronic knee problem, left ankle fracture, hamstring strain, shoulder problem, back strain, hip pain and, most recently, a tender Achilles - Australia's Ryan Harris has had almost as many injuries as he has played Test matches in the last three years.


Such is the esteem in which the 33-year-old pace bowler is held Down Under, however, that this weekend, he will board a jet for England looking to augment his tally of 47 wickets in 12 Tests and help Australia win back the Ashes.

His average of 23.63 tells part of the tale why such an apparently fragile bowler will be on the plane, as does the memory of the 6-47 he took in the second innings of the third Test in Perth to help Australia to their only victory in the last Ashes series.

Harris fractured his ankle in the fourth Test of that series and, he admitted, there had been moments in the long months of recuperation from various injuries since that he thought it might be his only Ashes experience.

"Absolutely, you have those negative thoughts," he told Reuters in an interview this week.

"I've had plenty of injuries, I'm probably going to have another couple, but the fact is I want to be part of this set-up, this team, for as long as I can.

"There were times where I found it hard, going to the gym every day. But the fact that this series was coming up and wanting to play for Australia again was what kept me going.

"I haven't got many years left, maybe six months, maybe three years, who knows?

"It's such great fun playing cricket for Australia. One day all that's going to be gone. I don't want to be sitting there on that day thinking 'I wish I'd stayed a bit longer'."

The adopted Queenslander's most recent injury forced him to return home from the Indian Premier League, but that at least enabled him to get fit enough that he believes he could play all five test matches in England.

"In my mind I think I can. It's going to be hard and I haven't really got any history to back that up," he said, laughing.

"The Achilles is really, really good, a lot better than I thought it was going to be, I've actually got no pain at the moment.

"Touch wood, it'll stay similar to that throughout the series. It's going to get sore again but I've made adjustments to the boots that I wear, and the pressure that was on my Achilles is no longer there, so hopefully that helps."

Perhaps because of the fragility of their batting in the recent 4-0 drubbing in India, Australia have been talking up their pace unit as potentially the decisive factor in wresting the Ashes back from England in July and August.

"We don't see it that way, we think the batters are more than good enough to perform," Harris said.

"We haven't done so recently, but we know our best cricket is good enough.

"Everyone's up for this. If you haven't got a drive and passion for this you probably shouldn't get on the plane."

Shorter and stockier than most of his colleagues in the modern fast bowling fraternity, Harris generates genuine pace and was delighted to see the Duke ball moving so much for England's bowlers during their test against New Zealand at Lord's last week.

"The bowling is crucial, watching the Test from England the other night, I was licking my lips because the ball was zipping around," he said.

"I'm looking forward to going up against the (Kevin) Pietersens and the (Alastair) Cooks and the (Jonathan) Trotts again, it was a lot of fun last time.

"I think we can win it," he concluded. "I'm sure England are nervous. There's a lot of pressure for us to perform but there's probably more pressure on them to keep it."

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