Harris set to make first-class return

"It's been tough getting back, probably the hardest rehab I've had to go through mentally and even physically"

“It’s been tough getting back, probably the hardest rehab I’ve had to go through mentally and even physically”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

After spending months in the National Cricket Centre gym, Australia pace bowler Ryan Harris is set to make his first-class return on Sunday.

Harris has been named in the Queensland squad that will take on New South Wales in Brisbane.

This will be his first competitive match since undergoing knee surgery following the Test series against South Africa in March, which the Baggy Greens won 2-1.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t [think about retiring] – it’s always crossed my mind at 35,” Harris said. “But the bottom line is I still want to play, I still think I’ve got something to give and I finished the last series in South Africa, the first two Tests I didn’t bowl too well and was getting a bit worried if I could get back to my best and I did in Cape Town. So I’ve still got unfinished business, especially with those Ashes there as well. I still want to make sure I can try to get there.

“The negative thoughts were knocked out pretty quickly by the positive thought and saying if I was to give up now I’d still have unfinished business and I don’t want that. I’ve definitely had negative thoughts, I’m sick of going to the NCC gym and doing the stuff I had to do, but I had to do it to get where I am now.

“I’d love to make England. It’s a long way off again, but I think the ultimate would be to get through all the cricket this summer and then get to England and have a chance to defend the Ashes, that’d be great. Then I’ll see where I’m at from there. It’s been tough getting back, probably the hardest rehab I’ve had to go through mentally and even physically, questioning whether I can do it and all that sort of stuff. But once I get to this stage now where I’m close to playing and back playing cricket amongst the boys, that’s when I still really want to do it.”

Harris now has his sights set on representing Australia in their upcoming home series against India, which begins with a Test match in Brisbane on December 4.

“I wasn’t happy the way I bowled last week, that’s natural, I always have those sorts of dummy spits when I come back from injury,” Harris said after recording figures of 3-94 off 27 overs in a Futures League match. “The more I bowl the better I get so its just going to take time, and hopefully I can get back to decent form during the Shield game, and if I get picked to play the first Test I do, and if I don’t I’ll keep playing for Queensland and hopefully bowling well.

“There’s two games before the Test, I might have to use both of them, but who knows. I think I can do it, I’ve done it before, the thing for me is I’ve had five and a half months out, I try to get back to the way I was bowling when I last bowled in two bowls and it’s just not possible. So every time I bowl its felt better. Every time I do bowl I feel like I’m improving. Hopefully I don’t bowl 50 overs in the game because it means Queensland are in a bit of trouble as well, but the more I bowl in game conditions I know I’ll get better.”

Harris admitted that he will always feel pain in his knee after bowling a long spell, but added that it is something he has to get used to if he wants to prolong his international career.

“It just gets sore. All I need now is getting back to the mental toughness of knowing my knee’s going to be sore and getting through it,” he said. “Bottom line my knee in South Africa towards the end of that series was cooked.

“It’s a lot better now, so I’ve just got to get back to that pain and getting my mind around it. Also getting the load that has to go through it, standing on my feet for so long, it hasn’t had that for a long time, so it’s going to take a couple more games before it gets right.”

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