Ryano the Great

The Investec Ashes 2015

How does one define Ryan Harris’ career? Short. Wholehearted. Full blooded. And….Great.

The lionhearted Harris beat most sides – but in the end he couldn’t beat himself, his body and his right knee.

While the term “there are no fairytale endings in sport” is often used when a sportsman retires in usually unfortunate circumstances, for Harris more than most this old cliché runs very true.

On one leg, Harris drives Australia to a series victory in South Africa.
On one leg, Harris drives Australia to a series victory in South Africa.

For over six months Harris has undergone extensive rehabilitation and substantial training for one farewell Ashes series. The chance to beat the Poms in their own back yard was too much of a dream to turn down.

In the end it wasn’t to be. Come Cardiff on Wednesday and Australia will have to march on without their solider and best seam bowler since Glenn McGrath. The gap that Harris will leave will be hard to fill. Despite it looking increasingly likely that Australia would have started the series without him in their line-up, five match Ashes series aren’t usually completed with just three seamers. If Harris didn’t start in Cardiff then you could be rest assured that he would have done at either Lords or Edgbaston.

Peter Siddle, for all his worth as an honest line-to-line bowler, and 192 Test wickets aren’t to be sniffed at, he just isn’t Ryan Harris. Harris just made things happen. According to his captain Michael Clarke he would run through brick walls for his country and after watching Ryano bowl it’s hard to disagree with that claim.

While he won just one of his three Ashes campaigns, England will no doubt be pleased to see the back of him. Against the Poms, his figures stack up alongside the best of them all, 57 wickets in 12 Tests at 20.63. His career average of 23.52 isn’t too shabby either, make no mistake about it, Harris was an excellent bowler. During the era in which he played – perhaps only Dale Steyn and James Anderson could claim to be better exponents of fast bowling.

It took the Sydney-born Harris almost ten years of toil in domestic cricket with both South Australia and Queensland to finally get a crack at Test cricket and earn that precious baggy green. He made his long awaited debut against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in March 2010 and would go on to play just 26 more Tests in the next five years.

Harris and injuries unfortunately went hand in hand and that in a way was a part of who he was on the cricket field. The fact he was never far from another injury made it more remarkable in the way in which he continued to have success on the pitch when his fitness would allow. In the 27 Tests in which he played, Australia won 16.

It’s hard to look back on his career without revisiting his superman like performance in Cape Town last year. With South Africa seemingly looking like holding on for a draw, Harris summoned one final effort to drive his side towards a series victory. With two wickets remaining and bone cartilage floating around in his right knee, he rewarded his captains faith with the wickets of Steyn and Morne Morkel in the space of three deliveries to claim a famous victory – just days after the series success he was back in the surgeons chair for another knee operation.

During his career Ryano was the first name on the team sheet and the first on the physio’s bench and in between he was a great.

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