Ryan Harris.Australian captain Michael Clarke has emphasised the strength of its bowling attack isn’t the form of the three out in the middle, but a band of Test-ready fast bowlers being assembled for the future.
Having its two young spearheads James Pattinson and Pat Cummins as well as vice-captain Shane Watson sitting in the casualty ward isn’t ideal, but the high injury rate has made Australia acutely aware of the need for quality depth.
The third Test against India in Perth, where the experienced but fragile Ryan Harris and the talented but raw Mitchell Starc have been called into the squad is an ideal beginning for how Australia can manage their quicks leading into the 2013 Ashes.
Australia has tried almost everything to get Harris fit, but he’s only made it through one of the four Test series he’s been selected for since his debut in March 2010.
Sadly it seems he’s too injury prone to play fill in for Pattinson or Cummins when they need a rest.
This would mean Australia would be replacing quality with quality and in the process prolonging the careers of Harris and the developing young bowlers at the same time. Up until the outstanding debuts of Pattinson and Cummins, 32-year-old Harris, a proven wicket-taker was considered the best fast bowler in the country.
Australia still values him as a crucial asset and selectors must now find the right balance.
“The value is we’ve got a proven Test quick bowler waiting in the wings, ready to go,” said Australian coach Mickey Arthur of Harris’s availability for Perth.
“We’ve put a lot of work into Ryan over the last two weeks. He was close to getting a game (in Sydney).
“We felt he hadn’t had enough work. We’ve put that work into him and we’re satisfied, if selected, he’s ready to go come Perth.”
With the amount of cricket being played, bowlers breaking down so regularly and the brightest prospects Pattinson and Cummins both under 21 years of age, balancing work loads has become a necessity.
In Pattinson, Cummins, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Harris, Starc and Watson, Australia has the basis of a bowling squad rich on talent and experience, that could be rotated with confidence.
Chairman of selectors John Inverarity revealed Pattinson was going to be rested for the WACA regardless of his foot problem, and it’s likely 18-year-old Cummins will receive the same cushioning through his early years.
Clarke believed the attack have the potential to become the best Australia has seen since the days of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie.
“I would love to see our bowling group, and that’s not just the three guys playing, the squad of bowlers we have around Australian cricket . . . set our standard as high as we can and continue to improve,” he said.
There’s some chance Australia could go with four quicks at the WACA and leave out Nathan Lyon, but Starc is almost certain to be 12th man.
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