Bowlers remain put as Harris calls time
FAST bowler Ryan Harris has saved selectors from one difficult decision ahead of the first Ashes Test, announcing his immediate retirement from all forms of cricket.
The 35-year-old, who has battled numerous injury setbacks throughout his career, said he was hanging up his boots after receiving confirmation his knee problems would have ruled him out of the Ashes Tour.
"After talking it over with my family, I know now is the right time to step away from cricket," Harris said prior to the resumption of play on the last day of Australia's tour game against Essex.
"I'm pretty lucky, I have had a wonderful career and nothing made me prouder than pulling on the Baggy Green."
Harris took 113 wickets in his 27 Tests for Australia, including 24 at 19.58 in the last Ashes campaign in England when he was named Australia's player of the series. His retirement means Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will retain their places in the side for the first Test which starts in Cardiff on Wednesday.
Pat Cummins, who made his Test debut against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2011, has been called in to the touring squad to replace Harris. With veteran opener Chris Rogers likely to play alongside David Warner despite modest scores of 21 and 32 against Essex, the key decisions for selectors will be who bats at No.5, and who gets the all-rounder's role.
Adam Voges, who made a century on debut on the recent tour of the West Indies, made 49 (run out) and one against Essex and should get first crack at the No.5, while form suggests Mitch Marsh should have the inside running against Shane Watson as the all-rounder.
The West Australian made 169 off 188 balls, and 37 against Essex, while Watson posted 52 and six in Australia's 169-run victory.
Marsh also took two wickets in Essex's first innings, while Watson went wicketless for the game, sending down just six overs in each innings.
The only real concern for the Aussies is the form of off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
After he failed to take a wicket in the first innings against Essex, Lyon was staring at last-day figures of 0-64 until he snared the last wicket, from a wild slog that looped to point. A spin-friendly wicket is expected at Cardiff after a run of unusually hot weather.
Likely first Test XI: D Warner, C Rogers, S Smith, M Clarke, A Voges, M Marsh, B Haddin, M Johnson, M Starc, J Hazlewood, N Lyon.