Bupa Sheffield Shield
Harris pulled from Shield for Ashes focus
Fast bowler put on structured strength and rehab programme to ensure he hits UK in peak physical condition
2 February 2015, 11:51 AM AEST
Ryan Harris will sit out the remainder of the Bupa Sheffield Shield season to allow the fast bowling spearhead to be at his peak for this winter's Ashes series as Australia seeks to win an away series for the first time since 2001
The 35-year-old Harris had planned to play two games for the myFootDr Queensland Bulls but that plan has been shelved in favour of a structured programme of rest and strengthening, including centre-wicket matches with Cricket Australia's National Performance Squad.
Harris had already revealed he would skip Australia's two-Test tour of the West Indies in early June with his wife Cherie expecting the couple's first child.
It means Harris's next first-class game will not be until 25 June, the opening match of Australia's Tour of the British Isles against county side Kent in Canterbury.
"I want to play as much cricket as I can as I know you are a long time retired but I recognise this is the best approach to ensuring I am absolutely right for the Ashes," said Harris.
"I have huge ambitions to help us win a series in the United Kingdom and that goal is something that will drive me on over the coming months."
CA's Executive General Manager of Team Performance, Pat Howard, said Harris's workload over the summer on his comeback from knee surgery last March had prompted the move.
"He has had a heavy bowling workload over the past couple of months and actually bowled more balls from November to January this summer than in the corresponding period twelve months earlier," said Howard.
"It has already been documented that Ryan will miss the tour of the West Indies as his wife prepares to give birth to their first child, and by giving him this structured programme to rehabilitate his knee, improve his physical conditioning and gradually build his bowling workload, we can ensure he is absolutely ready for the Ashes tour.
"Ryan is keen to play as much cricket as he can but he knows his body better than anyone else and he is fully understanding and appreciative of the thought that has gone into this decision.
"Queensland Cricket is also completely supportive of the decision that has been made with the interests of the national team front and centre, and we are very grateful for everyone seeing that bigger picture."
Harris's withdrawal from the Shield season is a further blow to embattled Queensland, who currently sit last on the ladder and parted ways with head coach Stuart Law last week.
In the 2013 Ashes tour, Harris took 24 wickets in four Tests at 19.58 and followed that up with 22 wickets at 19.31 during last summer's 5-0 whitewash.
Australia are scheduled for two four-day warm-up matches before the first Test Ashes Test at Cardiff on July 8.
National Selector Rod Marsh said Harris's age and injury history had necessitated the enforced structure.
"We looked at various options around him playing Bupa Sheffield Shield cricket during the rest of this summer but on the basis that he is nearer the end of his career than the beginning we want to ensure that he bowls as many balls as possible in international cricket and we believe this programme ahead of the Ashes is the best way to achieve that goal," said Marsh.