Harris short of a gallop: Darren Lehmann

Ryan Harris will need to find form and fitness in the next fortnight to book his place in the Ashes opener.


Harris, Australia’s leading wicket-taker in the 2013 Ashes, has been widely tipped to return for the first Test in Cardiff, which starts on July 8.

The 35-year-old was rested from the second half of the Sheffield Shield season then skipped the West Indies tour due to the birth of his first child.

Coach Darren Lehmann admitted Harris’ lack of match fitness would be a factor when the selectors pick their first-choice bowling attack.

“He hasn’t played for going on six months now,” Lehmann told radio station SEN.

“He looks pretty good to be fair, (but he is) a little bit short of a gallop.

“It’s his first game back today. We’ll see how he pulls up.

“Then we’ll have a better idea of whether he can make it through the first Test or the second Test, or he’s right to go from ball one.”

Harris has limited time to make a big impression.

Australia started their four-day clash with Kent on Thursday.

The visitors face Essex next week, their final tune-up before the series starts in Wales.

Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were rested from this week’s game, but both starred during the recent tour of the West Indies and Nathan Lyon is an automatic selection.

Mitchell Johnson, who lorded over England in the 2013-14 Ashes when he claimed 37 scalps, almost certainly won’t be dropped.

“Johnson’s probably been the pick of the lot,” Lehmann said, when asked which member of the 17-man squad had impressed him the most during the first week on tour.

Starc and Hazlewood would also be unlucky to miss out.

“If we have to make a tough call and fit him (Harris) in because he’s bowling well, well so be it,” Lehmann said.

One left-field solution would be a four-prong pace attack, but Lehmann confirmed that wasn’t on the cards.

“They’ve got a lot of left-handers in their squad so Lyon is a big weapon for us,” he said.

“I know England have talked him down and said he’s a weak link, but for us we think he’s a really important player.”