x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ashes round-up: Harris injured, Broad Australian media target

Australia's in-form paceman faces battle to be ready for winter series after suffering from hamstring problem.

Ryan Harris was Australia's most successful bowler during the just-concluded Ashes series. Ryan Pierse / Getty Images
Ryan Harris was Australia's most successful bowler during the just-concluded Ashes series. Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Ryan Harris, the Australia fast bowler, faces a battle to be fit for this winter's Ashes Down Under after being ruled out for up to two months with a hamstring problem.

Harris, 33, was Australia's man of the series in the recent Test tour of England – claiming 24 wickets at 19.58 in four matches.

That was the first time he has ever played four Tests in a row due to a career-long battle with fitness problems.

Indeed, he has worn the Baggy Green just 16 times since his debut in March 2010 despite being considered one of his country's most incisive bowlers and boasting a superb record.

A Cricket Australia statement read: "Ryan Harris injured his right hamstring during the latter part of the second innings on the fifth Ashes Test. He had to leave the field and did not return to the game as he was unable to bowl.

"He was assessed after arriving back in Australia today and is expected to be unavailable to play for the next 6-8 weeks."

He was left out of this summer's Ashes opener at Trent Bridge but was arguably the most consistent paceman from either side after his belated arrival in the Lord's Test.

Speaking after taking five wickets in his first innings of the series, Harris said his ambition stretched only as far as flying home with his teammates when the time came, rather than alone with yet another injury.

He managed that in the end, but only just. He was forced to watch the thrilling climax to the final Test from the dressing room at the Kia Oval having felt his hamstring tighten.

The first Test in Brisbane begins on November 21, leaving Harris with limited rehabilitation time should his recovery be completed as expected.

It is the latest in a succession of fitness issues among Australia's talented pace division, with Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Jackson Bird all being struck down with back injuries in the past few weeks.

Broad a media target

Less than a week after England sealed a 3-0 Ashes win, the Australians are turning their attention to the return visit of Alastair Cook's side by painting Stuart Broad, the fast bowler, as a cartoon villain.

Broad controversially refused to walk during the first Test in England after he was given not out by the on-field umpires and the 27 year old admitted he knew he had hit the ball that ended up in Australia captain Michael Clarke's hands.

Darren Lehmann, the Australia coach, described Broad's actions as "blatant cheating" in an interview on Australian Radio, comments for which he was fined and later apologised.

Lehmann also said he hoped local fans would not let Broad forget the incident when England tour Australia from late October and Australian media, smarting from the 3-0 series loss, picked up the cudgels on Thursday.

They painted Broad as the man dressed in black performing to a backdrop of ominous piano music, comparing him to other English players who have attracted opprobrium from local fans.

"John Snow put up with it. Douglas Jardine wallowed in it," cricket columnist Robert Craddock wrote in Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper about the combative fast bowler of the 1970s and the captain who implemented 'Bodyline' tactics in the 1930s.

"But will Stuart Broad be strong enough to handle the tsunami of abuse that awaits him in Australia this summer?

"Only the bold or foolish incite Australia fans.

"It is generally not in the nature of English tourists to play Australia at their own antagonistic game.

"Sledging is generally considered our game, not theirs.

"Broad will need to have his mental flak jacket on from the moment he lands in Brisbane for the first Test."

The England and Wales Cricket Board has said it hopes the incidents will not provoke any further vitriole amongst local fans and that player safety will be ensured.

England's first match on the tour of Australia is against Western Australia in Perth from October 31-November 2 with the first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane beginning on November 21.

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