Ryan Harris withdrawn from Sheffield Shield for Ashes focus

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Melbourne, Feb 2: Ryan Harris will sit out the remainder of the 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 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 (CA) National Performance Squad.

File photo of Ryan Harris

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 June 25, the opening match of Australia's Tour of England 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," Harris was quoted as saying on CA's official website.

"I have huge ambitions to help us win a series in Britain 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 12 months earlier," said Howard.

"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."

IANS

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