London - Australia fast bowler Ryan Harris's hopes of being fit for next
week's first Ashes Test suffered a blow on Wednesday with a recurrence of the
knee trouble that has blighted his career.
The setback ruled him out of the team's final warm-up match against Essex.
The 35-year-old paceman underwent major surgery to his right knee last year
and put himself on a lengthy fitness programme in a bid to be fit in time to
face England at Cardiff's Sophia Gardens from July 8.
Although officials labelled Harris's latest injury, which saw him replaced
by Peter Siddle for the four-day game against Essex, as nothing more serious
than "soreness" it may well be enough to keep him out of the side
when Australia launch their defence of the Ashes.
Harris missed Australia's recent series win in the West Indies in order to
be present for the birth of his child, and after watching him bowl in the
tour-opening win against Kent at Canterbury, team coach Darren Lehmann laid
down the conditions required for the bowler to regain his Test place.
"At the end of the day, Ryan Harris has got to be fully fit and if he's
doing that then he's a big part of our side or squad going forward,"
"He has got to prove to us he can bowl 20 overs in an innings or
roughly about and make sure he's ready to go. If he can do that, he certainly
comes into consideration."