By Amlan Chakraborty
Australia’s injury-plagued paceman Ryan Harris announced his immediate retirement from all forms of cricket on Saturday, dealing a major setback to his team’s defence of the Ashes starting in England next week.
The 35-year-old Queenslander withdrew from Australia’s ongoing warm-up match against Essex and walked away from the sport less than a week before the first of five tests against England starts at Cardiff on Wednesday.
“Given the news I received yesterday, and after talking it over with my family, I know now is the right is the time to step away from cricket,” Harris said following scans on his troublesome right knee.
“I’m pretty lucky, I have had a wonderful career and nothing made me prouder than pulling on the baggy green,” said the right-arm paceman, who ends his career with 113 wickets from 27 tests.
Cricket Australia announced that Pat Cummins would replace Harris in the Ashes squad.
“I played 27 more tests than I ever thought I would and I have relished every single moment of them,” said Harris, who also claimed 44 wickets in 21 one-day internationals.
“I couldn’t have played with a better bunch of blokes and walking away from the team and our support staff is probably the hardest thing to stomach right now.
“This is a very special team and I know they will do Australia proud in this Ashes series. I know I will certainly be watching every ball.”
The Sydney test against India in January was Harris’s last international match but he will be best remembered for taking 24 wickets in a losing cause the last time Australia toured England in 2013, the highlight his 7-117 figures at Chester-le-street.
Coach Darren Lehmann paid tribute to the lion-hearted paceman, who made his test debut in 2010 against New Zealand in Wellington at the age of 30.
“Ryan always gave it his all for his country and he epitomises everything the baggy green stands for,” Lehman said of the bowler nicknamed ‘Rhino’.
“His never-say-die attitude was his signature as he left absolutely nothing on the field each time he played and I think that is something for which he should be incredibly proud.”
“The team and I are certainly very proud of everything he has achieved on and off the field and we wish him all the best in whatever he decides to do next.”
CA chairman Wally Edwards also lauded Harris for his outstanding career.
“Ryan has been a wonderful role model and has proved to state cricketers around the nation that age is no barrier to national selection if you have talent, commitment and a burning desire to succeed,” Edwards said.