That’s what cricketers always say, as if they received some mystical message from the cosmos informing them it was ‘time’.
Ryan Harris has retired because he’s broken his leg by bowling with a knee devoid of cartilage. You might therefore think it was ‘time’ slightly before now, but apparently not.
Harris himself implied that he took the hint after getting a medical opinion.
“My surgeon David Young, he didn’t say in as many words that I should retire but he said it was going to be very hard.”
However, the key element here is actually the term ‘my surgeon’. Professional sportsmen should not have surgeons.
‘My postman’ makes sense in that it is a service from which you regularly benefit. ‘My barber’ works for the same reason. If you are undergoing surgery frequently enough that the person undertaking the work is basically kept on retainer, you should be in a hospital, not a sports ground.
Harris then gave an insight into the self-destructive tendencies that have allowed his body to reach this point.
“I nearly blew my head up yesterday thinking there’s got to be a way I can get past this again.”
Quite what cranial detonation would have achieved is anyone’s guess, but you can only give him full marks for his commitment to playing Test cricket.
As in ‘out of the warm-up match against Essex due to a recurrence of his long-standing knee problems’. Not as in ‘dismissed’ or in that other sense.
“My body itself feels really good,” said Harris last week. ‘Good’ for Ryan Harris apparently means ‘at least a few days away from injury’. To call him injury-prone is misleading. He’s fitness prone. Injured is the norm.
So as it stands, Australia are already struggling to cobble together a side for the first Test. They’re dropping like flies. Harris is, admittedly, the first of those flies, but more will undoubtedly follow. Darren Lehmann is running scared to the extent that Brad Haddin’s being rested from this match lest he break a fingernail.
England, meanwhile, go from strength to strength. Only a few days ago, they were in Spain, a country that doesn’t even play cricket in any meaningful sense. Now they’re in England, the country which gave birth to the game.
It’s been suggested that this could be Ryan Harris’s last Test. He’s scheduled to have a load of loose knobbles and flakes of bone dug out of his crappy knee shortly after it finishes. Although he’s then got seven months or so to recuperate before Australia’s next Test, he hasn’t actually got many opportunities to prove his form and fitness. The Australian cricket team might move on.
Dennis Lillee, angling for an improved contract with Cricket Australia, is currently talking up the younger bowlers (and therefore himself), but that talk doesn’t actually equate to wickets. We’ve been here before. Australia have had plenty of promising bowlers for quite some time now, but there’s a gap between being capable of performing in Tests and doing so consistently.
We’re not saying Lillee’s bag o’ bairns are bad bowlers or that they won’t become top Test bowlers one day. We’re just saying that it’s wrong to be blasé about the potential loss of a bowler like Harris, acting like you’ve got readymade replacements and it’s no big deal.
Ryan Harris is currently on 96 Test wickets, incidentally.
Fast bowling isn’t just about bowling quickly. It’s also about sitting around worrying about your knee. As such, Australia’s younger bowlers have the perfect role model in Ryan Harris.
Harris is injured again, which is pretty much his default status. Really, the news was that earlier in the week, he was fit – that was what was worth remarking upon. Now we’re back to normal and he’s had to fly home from the IPL after a debilitating workload of 12 overs in three weeks saw his Achilles tendon sustain some form of knackage.
Ryan Harris doesn’t look fragile. Like a potato, he appears lumpy and functional. He’s not like one of these gangly fast bowlers who move like puppets where every component’s stretched to breaking point. Those guys look like they’re made out of cooked spaghetti wrapped around raw spaghetti and you can easily see why something is likely to give way.
But yet Harris is the vulnerable one – particularly his legs. He’s still the best at this. He’s the one showing Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins et al. how it’s done.