Harris confident Johnson will make Ashes return

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“He’s bowling very fast, and if he’s bowling that pace, I know I wouldn’t want to be facing it and I know the Englishmen wouldn’t want to be facing it”

Australia pace bowler Ryan Harris is confident his fellow seamer Mitchell Johnson will make his Ashes return, stating that “I’ve watched him bowl in India and it’s been scary”.

The national selectors are set to name the Ashes squad for the first Test in Brisbane tomorrow and Johnson is expected to make the cut, along with Harris, Peter Siddle, James Faulkner and either Ben Hilfenhaus or the uncapped Ben Cutting.

Johnson has not featured in an Ashes series since his disastrous performance in the 2010-11 campaign, which saw England walk out of the Land Down Under with a 3-1 win.

“He’s right to go,” Harris said. “I’ve watched him bowl in India and it’s been scary.

“He’s bowled that fast. I saw comments the other day in the paper that he only rushed Yuvraj and…Raina. But Dhawan is a very good player, and Sharma, and he had them jumping. He’s bowling fast. I hope he’s back. He’s had a tough time.

“He’s been out of the Test team for such a long time and I know, I’ve spoken to him, he wants to be back in the team. He’s done everything he can…I’d be very surprised if he’s not in the squad tomorrow. He’s bowling very fast, and if he’s bowling that pace, I know I wouldn’t want to be facing it and I know the Englishmen wouldn’t want to be facing it.”

One of the major issues surrounding tomorrow’s squad announcement is whether all-rounder Shane Watson will be fully fit in time for the first Ashes Test after suffering a low-grade hamstring strain during the last ODI against India in Bangalore.

Harris noted that having Watson in the team could prove extremely useful as it would give captain Michael Clarke a fifth bowling choice, but he added that he was also comfortable with having a four-man pace attack if Watson were to be ruled out for the first Test.

“I’m happy to go with four,” Harris said. “That’s my job, I’ve got to bowl. It’s probably good for the team if you have the fifth option. Shane Watson bowling and batting in our team is priceless. You need him batting and bowling, but you also [especially] need him batting. So whatever he needs to do and whatever has to be done for him to play, whether that’s not bowling, that’s fine, we need him in there. Either way, four or five, we’ve got to do the job, no matter what happens.”

Harris also lavished praise on Cutting, stating that his bowling has got better and better over the past couple of years.

Cutting, 26, has an impressive bowling record at the Gabba in Brisbane, where he has taken 59 wickets at a jaw-dropping average of 19.83.

“In the last couple of years he’s just improved so much,” Harris said. “He was always known to bowl probably a little bit too short. It’s something I’ve worked on with him a bit and he’s worked with the staff at the Queensland Bulls. But he’s bowling beautifully at the moment, he’s bowling good pace and he’s pitching the ball right up. And his batting – we all saw what he can do in the Ryobi Cup. He’s virtually a genuine all-rounder. I’d love to see him in there around the squad.”

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