Australia have suffered a devastating blow ahead next week’s Ashes series with the news that key bowler Ryan Harris has been forced to retire through injury.
Harris, 35, was ruled out of the Australians’ final warm-up match against Essex on Wednesday after suffering what team management termed ‘soreness’ to his right knee, reports The Guardian.
The problem with that joint has been a long-standing one for Harris and it flared up again after he bowled 30 overs in his country’s opening tour match against Kent last week, the fast bowler’s first competitive action since Australia’s Test against India in Sydney in January.
After having two scans this week he was widely expected to miss the first Test against England in Cardiff.
However, the news from those scans was far worse than anyone had feared and is huge setback for Australia ahead of the Ashes given Harris has taken 46 wickets at 19.45 in the past two series against England and was his country’s leading wicket-taker during the 2013 series in England with 24.
Australia initially only ruled Harris out of the series, with team physio Alex Kountouris saying: ‘Ryan unfortunately experienced right knee pain during the tour match in Canterbury which was consistent with his on-going knee condition. Whilst Ryan has had similar knee pain in the past, on this occasion it was more severe and he was unable to play in the Essex tour match.
‘He had scans in London this week which revealed new damage to his existing knee injury. Unfortunately the damage to the joint means it is unlikely that he would recover in time to play a part in this series.’
But it then emerged that the damage to the knee was so severe that Harris, who took 113 wickets in 27 Tests, had been forced to retire from the game altogether.
‘Given the news I received yesterday, and after talking it over with my family, I know now is the right is the time to step away from cricket,’ Harris said.
‘I’m pretty lucky, I have had a wonderful career and nothing made me prouder than pulling on the Baggy Green.
‘I played 27 more Tests than I ever thought I would and I have relished every single moment of them.’
Pat Cummins will replace Harris in Australia’s squad, but the 22-year-old will not be able to replace the experience and skill lost by Harris’ retirement.