- The Ashes 2013
Harris confident of fitness ahead of Ashes
Ryan Harris is confident he will be fit ahead of the Ashes after receiving encouraging results from scans on his injured Achilles tendon. This week, Harris was named in Australia's 16-man Ashes squad but he also flew home from the IPL due to the injury, which, if more serious, might have placed his England tour in jeopardy.
However, scans and the inspection of Cricket Australia's chief medical officer Justin Paolini showed that Harris' Achilles is not seriously injured, with an early estimate of six to eight weeks on the sidelines described by Harris as "the worst case scenario". It is more likely that Harris will be bowling again in three to four weeks, winning him time to play well before the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.
"Australia A isn't discounted just yet either," Harris told ESPNcricinfo. "I've got to do some serious rehab and the doctor's confident that six-eight weeks is the worst case scenario - if I do things right I could be right in a couple of weeks. The good thing is there is time to get it right and then bowl some overs. I'll have something under my belt for England.
"It's very disappointing to leave the IPL because as I said from the start it was crucial for me to keep bowling, but this is something I've had on and off for a long time and it's just flared up. The last four weeks of the season in Australia it was all fine. It's disappointing to leave Kings XI, but my main priority is obviously England."
Harris had felt Achilles discomfort for some time, and initially was left out of the Kings XI starting line-up for reasons of team balance rather than his inability to bowl with the ailment. But as the team met a succession of unhelpful pitches, Harris decided in concert with the Kings XI and Queensland coach Darren Lehmann that an early flight home was the best option.
"I knew anyway it wasn't going to be too bad, purely because I played at the end of the season here and then went over to play games over there," Harris said. "To be honest the reason I hadn't played since the 14th wasn't really to do with that, it was more about the make up of the team and the wickets we were playing on.
"Boof [Lehmann] had a think about it, I was a little bit more sore than I'd been at the end of the season. So the potential of me maybe only playing another three games, we got together and thought the best thing to do would be to come home and get right."
Having spent all but the final few weeks of the 2012-13 season recovering from shoulder surgery, Harris was delighted by both the renewal of his CA contract and the public statements of the captain Michael Clarke and the national selector John Inverarity that he had a key role to play in the Ashes if fit. He has resolved to repay that faith.
"It's very rewarding to know your captain and chairman of selectors back you and have a lot of confidence in you," Harris said. "That's why it's so important for me to get fit and play as many games as they need me to play. That's me repaying them for the faith they're putting in me.
"The last year has been terrible, and getting another CA contract for me is just another chance, and there's no better series to get that second chance than in an Ashes series. I'm that keen, that enthusiastic and that hungry to get back in that series, win the Ashes back and repay them."
As for injury being Harris' almost constant companion, he admitted to wondering when he might be blessed with a clear six months in which to deliver the sort of high quality bowling that has made him respected by batsmen around Australia and the world.
"It's fair to say a few things go through my mind - someone upstairs has got to give me a decent run somehow before I finish," he said. "It's not as if I'm tearing hamstrings or calves, the things I'm doing are structural things, purely through what I do. You get to the stage where you get a niggle and push yourself through that until it becomes something else, and that's when you stop. You push yourself to the maximum every time you bowl.
"If you mindset gets negative then you've probably got to make the decision in calling it quits, but I'm not ready to do that yet. I'll do whatever I can to get right, especially for a series like England."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here