No-brainer, isn't it?
For a side that looked inconsistently competitive and indeed below-par in the recently concluded English leg of the Ashes, Australia sure have an interesting bowling attack.
There’s skill, there’s effort, there’s pace and there’s a relentless desire to keep going at it without much complaints—everything a captain would expect from his lead charge. And unsurprisingly, it’s the 33-year old Ryan "Ryano" Harris who’s been leading the charge, finishing the Ashes as Australia’s "Man of the Series."
His haul of 24 wickets at 19.58 was the second in the overall wickets’ tally, just two wickets behind Graeme Swann, playing one Test fewer. Quite literally, the bowler of the Ashes.
While the statistics do justify Harris’ performances in the Ashes, it doesn’t tell you an awful lot about the type of bowler he is. The extraordinary bit about Harris’ bowling is the fact that he keeps it ridiculously simple.
There’s intent—the length is more often than not fullish, the line where most bowlers ought to be—on and around off-stump, keen to make the batsman play every ball, which is by far the quality that separates average international bowlers from the really good ones.
There’s an awful lot of effort going into those deliveries, too. There’s pace and there’s the good old-fashioned back to your mark, charge in next ball, probably industrial side to him too, which makes him that much more admirable.
It’s relentless and a joy to watch, given that there’s a sense of expectancy about Harris’ bowling, yet it’s not all action-packed a la...say...a Dale Steyn.
There’s an awful lot of skill too, the sheer consistency of landing it there almost every other delivery. There’s a bouncer that pushes batsmen back, keeps them rooted, and the sucker punch—tempting him to fall for a trap, a slightly wider ball outside off, which draws a nick and that’s that.
Harris is a good old-fashioned fast bowler and a fighter—qualities that have evaded Australian cricket recently.
And well, the results are testament to everything Ryan Harris has done right this summer.
He single-handedly accounted for England’s top order at Lord’s, Old Trafford and the Riverside, with early wickets, reducing them to 20s-for-two or three.
Sample this ball to Joe Root in the fourth Test, which Harris landed towards off-stump, and the ball held its line—defeating the batsman, who belatedly tried to cover the line, and just clipped top of off.
The Root wicket at Durham quite aptly illustrates his rare penchant for accuracy and repetition, that most English batsmen (barring Bell) this summer have failed to master.
Yes, with Ryan Harris, there’s always injury to write about.
Who can forget his devastating spell against England at Perth in the second innings in 2010, claiming six for 47 before doing his ankle prior to the next Test in Melbourne. And as we write this, he’s nursing an hamstring injury, and fighting to regain fitness ahead of the “home” leg of the Ashes later this year.
The Aussies, perhaps, might have to manage Harris better in terms of his workload, for he’s surely likely to be a handful back home.