Australia are searching for yet another replacement this summer, after Ryan Harris, their lynchpin fast bowler, yesterday became their latest player to succumb to injury. Harris, whose rise to prominence as a one-day international (ODI) bowler continued as Australia fought back from 3-0 down to lose only 3-2 to England in their series, hurt his right knee in the final match at Lord's on Saturday.
The 30-year-old will now return to Australia, meaning his team need to find a replacement for this week's Twenty20 internationals, which start tonight at Edgbaston, and then two Tests - all against Pakistan - in England this month. Harris's misfortune is the latest in a run of injury setbacks for Ricky Ponting's team, who were already minus several of their usual pace-bowling resources on arrival and then had to accept first-choice wicketkeeper Brad Haddin would not be fit in time to take any part this summer.
Alex Kountouris, the Australia physiotherapist, said: "Ryan Harris injured his right knee during the fifth one-day international against England. "He will take no further part in the Twenty20 or Test matches against Pakistan in England and will return to Australia for further assessment." Shaun Tait's extreme pace helped Harris lead Australia's fightback in the five-match series Ponting has already made it clear he is tempted to try to persuade the fragile Tait, called up for a return to ODIs after off-spinner Nathan Hauritz injured his foot last week, that a Test comeback may be feasible too. Australia expect to name a replacement player for Harris soon.
Meanwhile, England have decided to rest Kevin Pietersen for the one-day series squad against Bangladesh, even before he injured his thigh against Australia. After his duck in the final ODI against Australia at Lord's, Pietersen has gone 16 one-day internationals without a 50 - and averages barely 18 in 11 innings since his comeback from surgery on his Achilles tendon last autumn. Yet England's selectors judged a break from the firing line, rather than taking up an opportunity to score overdue runs against one of world cricket's developing nations in three matches this week and next, would be best for the number three batsman and new father.
"We would have rested him [anyway]," national selector Geoff Miller told Sky Sports News. Despite Pietersen's run without a significant score - remarkably, for a batsman of his stature, stretching back to late 2008 - Miller has little doubt the man named man of the tournament in England's successful ICC World Twenty20 campaign simply must end his drought soon. "We know what his qualities are," he said. "Everybody is concerned when a batter is not getting runs, similarly when a bowler is not getting wickets or not bowling well. But we know well he is very capable of getting runs, and they are just round the corner."
England have also chosen to rest Graeme Swann, selecting his fellow off-spinner James Tredwell instead among a 13-man squad in which Jonathan Trott is Pietersen's replacement.
Australia v Pakistan, First Twenty20, 8pm