Man of the day

Having fallen just short at Trent Bridge in a thriller and then royally thumped at Lord's in a Test that saw the Queen in attendance, Australia weren't beaten by England at Old Trafford. Instead, it was the rain that had their number.

Last Updated: 05/08/13 at 19:09 Post Comment

The untimely return of the traditional Manchester weather cost the tourists the chance to keep the series alive in the third Ashes Test - they had England 37-3 at lunch but barely made it out onto the field after that.

They can't be faulted for a lack of effort in the play that was possible, with Ryan Harris leading their push for victory with a superb seven-over spell.

Effort is a fitting word to sum up Harris - he's a paceman that gives it all he has got, and also one that seems to put an awful lot of strain on his body to propel the ball down.

Since being recalled for the second Test the New South Welshman has been a constant thorn in England's side. He got his name on the honours board at cricket HQ with a first-innings five-for, suggesting his selection was a game too late.

Hope

In Manchester he finished with just the four wickets in the match, though that didn't do justice to his performance on a pitch that Australia's much-maligned batting line-up scored over 500.

On the final day he gave Australia some hope following a delayed start by snaring Alastair Cook with the 15th ball, trapping England's skipper leg before with a late inswinger.

He also dismissed Jonathan Trott with what some would claim to be a leg-side strangle; Harris, in contrast, could rightly claim it was just a case of a plan coming together. Australia have worked hard on their plans to keep England's no 3 quiet in the series, and so far they're working.

In contrast to new-ball partner Mitchell Starc, Harris constantly asked questions. He probed around the off stump looking for any help off the pitch or through the air, while also being quick enough to question the batsmen off both front and back foot.

The shame for Harris - and indeed Australia - is that it was just his 14th Test appearance. Having not made his debut until 2010 in the longest form of the game, the 33-year-old has been troubled by injuries, his sizeable frame proving frail and denying him the chance to become a lynchpin in the attack.

His figures - 58 wickets at an average of 22.56 and a strike-rate below 50 - show just how good the man nicknamed 'Rhino' is. If only he could charge in on a regular basis.

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