Ryan Harris could be rested for the fifth and final Test in the ongoing Ashes series. The fast bowler’s fitness has always been a worry and he might miss out at The Oval so as to keep him fit and ready for the return Ashes in Australia.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann said it is imperative for Harris to stay injury-free as Australia lost the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street by 74 runs on Monday. They now trail England 3-0, having already conceded the Ashes in the previous Test at Old Trafford.
Harris took a career-best figures of seven for 117 in England’s second innings. He is now Australia’s leading wicket-taker in the series with 20 scalps having played only three matches. He has never played four Tests in-a-row due to constant injury issues.
Lehmann said he hoped for Harris to be fit for the Oval Test, but that they will not push him if there is any doubt regarding his fitness.
“We’d love him to (play at the Oval). He’s exceptional. He’s had three in a row. It would be good if he gets four in a row,” said Lehmann as reported by Sportinglife.com.
“But if there’s any doubt of not getting through, he won’t play. To be perfectly honest the way the scenario is now we’ll be extra careful with him.
“We’ve got to make sure he’s right for the next Test series as well. He’s so valuable to us as we’ve seen in the previous few games.”
The fifth Test starts on August 21 with a practice match in between. Lehmann said that the extra few days could help Harris get ready for The Oval.
“The extra day off probably helps him a week before the next game. I just reckon he’s outstanding in what he gives to the team and the way he bowls and he just gets good players out,” said Lehmann.
“The wickets he’s got have been high-end all series. He’s blown England away a couple of times so that’s good.”
Shane Watson’s fitness will also be assessed by Australia after he suffered a groin injury during Day Three in Durham.
The all-rounder eventually came out to bat in Australia’s second innings, where they lost nine wickets in less than one session. Lehmann, though, insisted that Watson was needed as an all-rounder and not just a batsman.
“I hope he’s bowling. That’s what he’s picked in the side to do; bat and bowl. We’d like to have five bowlers. Our selection panel will have to sit down,” he concluded.