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Ryan Harris: it's not nice to be called 'the slow one'

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Don't expect respite: Siddle

Peter Siddle has warned South Africa not to expect any respite from the tourists in Port Elizabeth.

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As we were doing our game-day warm-up and the I saw the commentators talking to Graeme Smith after the toss, meaning he'd won it, we all started walking off thinking we were bowling. When someone said 'No, we're batting', it was a shock - but a nice shock. Three days' out you would've bowled on that pitch, because it looked so green, but on the day of the game it looked a very good wicket. The way Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith batted on it on day one proved that. As a team, we never looked back from there.

Even though Mitch Johnson is a teammate I was still able to marvel at what he did - but I've been doing that all summer with Mitch. And I'm adamant it wasn't just because of the pitch, which all of us got to bowl on. I was at short cover to him a few times and the pace his balls were going through at was just unbelievable. I'm glad I'm not facing him. Morne Morkel is a similar pace but, I'm not sure what it is, just wasn't having the same impact. Maybe it's because Morne gives you a better look at the ball. But he's definitely still tough to face. With Mitch, I don't know whether it's just the angle of his arm but the balls he's hitting their blokes with and getting nicks from are just scary - right at the helmet badge, right at the throat. That's hard to play. I say it's great to watch because he's on my side. If he was against us I wouldn't say that though.

Ryan Harris: "I've played well over a decade of first-class cricket but suspect nerves got to me a bit, playing South Africa for only the second time."

Ryan Harris: "I've played well over a decade of first-class cricket but suspect nerves got to me a bit, playing South Africa for only the second time." Photo: Getty Images

Sometimes Mitch bowls so fast it makes you feel like you're not pulling your weight. It's not nice to feel like you're 'the slow one'. But I never get cranky when he's taking wickets and I'm not. If I ever got that way I'd hope someone would come up and give me a rocket. I was rapt when Mitch got Graeme Smith in the second over of the match, after he'd hit me for 10 runs in the first. I wasn't unlucky though. It was a rubbish over from me to start with. I look back and realised I started to sledge a bit in the match, which I don't normally do. That probably shows I was a bit frustrated. A couple of things came out, although nothing silly.

I've played well over a decade of first-class cricket but suspect nerves got to me a bit, playing South Africa for only the second time. I reckon I tried a bit too hard, ran in a bit too hard in that first innings and focused too much on how fast I was going to bowl rather than where I was going to put the ball. It was just one of those days where not everything clicked.

You won't hear me complaining when people chip me after bowling like that, because it's warranted. I know when I'm not bowling well. Even Boof came up to me and said it wasn't my greatest effort, but not to worry. I knew that already, no-one had to tell me. I've built my career through consistency, but at Centurion I wasn't consistent. It was as simple as that. I was happier in the second innings, bar the last two overs when I against started bowling rubbish and Vernon Philander got me away a few times. I just didn't put the ball in the right spot enough.

At Port Elizabeth it's got to be better than what it was at Centurion. That's why my focus since the match ended has been on putting in the work in the nets before Thursday, to get back that feel that I want.

It's important for Sidds and I to be bowling well because we're going to be targeted because Mitch is dominating so much. They'll obviously be trying to get through Mitch's spell then come after us. We've just got to make sure we're building the pressure. If we bowl the way we did in our summer then they're not going to get us away, and they'll have to take risks to score.

As amazing as Mitch was I've got to also give credit to A.B. de Villiers. Even though you never want to pump up the tyres of blokes on the other side I must admit there were a few comments about, when Mitch was bowling to de Villiers, that it was the world's form bowler against the world's form batsman.

He's a bloody good player, de Villiers. How else could you get to 50 in 11 straight Tests? It tells you the bloke's in pretty fair nick, hitting them nice and straight. Even Mitch he was handling pretty well. He's obviously got a clear plan to Mitch and stuck to it really well. I reckon he looked tired out there though. A few times I saw him on haunches between balls or between overs. To get past that shows he's an elite sportsman, and he's obviously very tough mentally as well.

The challenge for us now is to get de Villiers earlier. The key to doing that is drying his scoring up. I'm going to have to do that a lot better to him, and the rest of the South African batsmen, than I did in Centurion. I didn't have to wait for the team meeting for Boof or anyone else to tell me that.

43 comments

  • Ryan Harris should not concern himself with Johnson who, in my opinion, appears to have lost the plot. Johnson claims that his job is to get batsmen out and so it is. But, Mr. Johnson, with skill, accuracy and innovative bowling, not by knocking them unconscious. The bouncer should be banned and more emphasis placed on skill development rather than how fast a ball is bowled. At the moment, cricket is losing to a yob attitude which may be fine in the tip and run rubbish of 20/20, but not in the classic game, surely?

    Commenter
    Paul
    Location
    Chirnside Park
    Date and time
    February 19, 2014, 12:37PM
    • Paul, are you really a cricket fan? I ask because every real cricket fan I know loves it when a fast bowler is scaring batsmen. Just like the great bats of our game like Bradman, Sobers, Pollock etc there are great fast bowlers going back to Fred 'The Demon' Spofforth who played for Australia in 1877. Harold Larwood, Frank Tyson, Lillee and Thompson etc are legends of our game. Your argument only holds water if you are a Pom still smarting from the 5-0 whitewash and have conveniently forgotten Bodyline or a Sth African who is scared of their team falling to Johnson again. By the way out is out. Whether it is off the glove or knocking the stumps over. Personally, I love watching Mitchell Johnson the way I used to love watching Curtly Ambrose or Wasim Akram. It doesn't matter where they are from a really fast bowler who can intimidate batsmen is great for the game.
      (P.S Have you noticed all the protective equipment you can wear when you bat?)

      Commenter
      Andy
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 2:28PM
    • Ban the bouncer? Are you serious?!

      The bouncer has been a part of the fast bowlers arsenal since day dot. Long before helmets, shest and arm guards. The advent of the modern protection afforded to batsmen has probably contributed to the downfall of the skills required to negotiate the bouncer.
      To ban the bouncer would slant the game even further in the advantage of the batsmen.

      Commenter
      Barney
      Location
      The Real World
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 2:29PM
    • You are obviously new to test match cricket. Otherwise you would know that the bouncer has been around since Jesus played full back for Carlton.

      Nothing yob about it. The poms use(d) it, the Windies use(d) it (youtube the WI greats from the 80s, young fella), the Saffers use(d) it, jeez, any fast bowler with the skill set uses it.

      The bouncer is a genuine tactic meant to not only question a batsman's courage but to also force him onto the back foot. Once on the back foot, the perfectly pitched, moving ball is bound to find an edge.

      Commenter
      Wal
      Location
      Bush
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 2:33PM
    • I agree re the bouncer Paul, I've just posted some thoughts on that same subject on the pitch blog! Cricket is a Gentleman's sport, not a hooligan or bogan past time!

      Commenter
      Bonzo
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 2:35PM
    • You're taking the P155 aren't you?

      Commenter
      kcabotkcab
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 2:39PM
    • Paul,
      surely you jest. It is Mitch's job to get the batsman out using whatever means are at his disposal. At the moment, that is pure pace and it is sublime to watch.
      Even though they got soundly beaten, I doubt whether a single South African player would agree with you regarding Johnson. They play the game hard and in good spirit. I am sure they relish the opportunity to test themselves against him at the moment.

      Commenter
      Corbachov
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 2:42PM
    • What parallel universe are you living in Paul? Cricket at it's best when batsmen's skill is tested.

      Commenter
      Oak
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 2:58PM
    • Well I'm an Aussie who also thinks that the bouncer should be dumbed down especially as technology allows bowling to get faster. I agree all nations have used it but guys really can get hurt and that is not in the spirit of the game. As for Ryan and Mitchell, make the most of your time guys, you are both the wrong side of 30.

      Commenter
      Australian Cricket Fan
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 2:59PM
    • About skill huh? Well if you want the game to be about skill, reduce the bat size to those that were around in the 1800s and push the boundaries back another 20m like they used to be. Then, let the batsmen know that it's gloves, pads and a box only, no other protective gear... then we'll have a match based on skill... so much has gone in favour of the batsmen over the last 20-30 years, and you want to strip the bowler of their strongest weapon? Please! Might as well tell the keeper not to wear gloves, he's clearly getting assistance where other fielders don't so it's not a real display of skill I suppose...

      It's up to the batsmen to develop a skill set to combat the bouncer, not the bowler to bowl dollies that a batsmen can tonk for 6. Pull you head in and watch a game once in a while mate

      Commenter
      Dibbers
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 19, 2014, 3:16PM

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