Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Australia pace bowler Ryan Harris will be put on ice until the start of the Ashes tour in June this year.
Cricket Australia have also confirmed that Harris will miss the national team’s tour of the West Indies in June so that he can be present for the birth of his first child. In addition to missing the tour of the West Indies, Harris will not play any more Sheffield Shield matches this season.
Instead of playing competitive cricket, Harris will spend the next four-and-a-half months working on his bowling in preparation for the Ashes. He will also take part in centre-wicket practice matches with the Cricket Australia National Performance Squad before the national team head to England.
“With Ryan, our number one priority is to ensure he is 100% fit and available for this winter’s Ashes series,” Cricket Australia’s performance manager Pat Howard said. “He has had a heavy bowling workload over the past couple of months and actually bowled more balls from November to January this summer than in the corresponding period 12 months earlier.
“It has already been documented that Ryan will miss the tour of the West Indies as his wife prepares to give birth to their first child, and by giving him this structured programme to rehabilitate his knee, improve his physical conditioning and gradually build his bowling workload, we can ensure he is absolutely ready for the Ashes tour.
“Ryan is keen to play as much cricket as he can but he knows his body better than anyone else and he is fully understanding and appreciative of the thought that has gone into this decision. Queensland Cricket is also completely supportive of the decision that has been made with the interests of the national team front and centre, and we are very grateful for everyone seeing that bigger picture.”
Harris was named Player of the Series during the 2013 Ashes in England and, even though he has only missed three of Australia’s last 18 Tests, Cricket Australia want to limit his workload, especially after he had his knee surgically repaired in March last year.
“Ryan’s performances in each of the last two Ashes series mark him out as a key performer for us as we seek to win a series in the United Kingdom for the first time since 2001,” national selector Rod Marsh said. “We looked at various options around him playing Sheffield Shield cricket during the rest of this summer but on the basis that he is nearer the end of his career than the beginning we want to ensure that he bowls as many balls as possible in international cricket and we believe this programme ahead of the Ashes is the best way to achieve that goal.”
When asked how he felt about being sidelined until late June, Harris said: “I want to play as much cricket as I can as I know you are a long time retired but I recognise this is the best approach to ensuring I am absolutely right for the Ashes. I have huge ambitions to help us win a series in the United Kingdom and that goal is something that will drive me on over the coming months.”