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Ryan Harris is a top bloke

Australian players celebrate after bowler Ryan Harris took the last wicket to give Australia victory on day 5 of the second Ashes Test match (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Guru
5th July, 2015
10

27 Tests.

That’s all we got. It’s all he had.

Truth be known, Bruce Reid shouldn’t have got that far. His back had the structural stability of a house made of straw in a hurricane.

But the lanky West Australian used those twenty seven opportunities to take 112 wickets. 47 of those were English batsmen.

Australia loves people who take it up to the Poms.

Bruce Reid did that. Australia loved him. His back didn’t. He was the unlucky one of the 80s.

Jump forward 30 years.

Another Australian fast bowler is told sternly by his body that 27 Tests is enough. This guy also has 112 Test wickets. 57 of those were English batsmen.

Australia loves people who take it up to the Poms.

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There is an unwritten part of Australian culture, widely held within sporting circles. It is called the ‘No Dickheads Policy’.

Essentially, it demands that no matter your skill, wealth, profile or status, one is judged primarily on their character. The other stuff comes later, if at all.

Dickheads find it hard to survive. Everyone aims to be known as a ‘top bloke’.

Ryan Harris is a top bloke.

Harris played eight Tests in a row in the summer of 13-14.

Not many predicted that it was even possible.

His five-Test Ashes series brought with it 22 wickets. He created another 20 for his teammates with a style of bowling that gave nothing. Not a centimetre. Not a millimetre.

English captain Alastair Cook dreams of Ryan Harris. They are not dreams of fluffy clouds and candy. They are dreams of outside edges, death rattles and padding up to balls swinging back to hit middle stump.

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South Africa are the world’s best Test team. Australia are their guests.

Teams rarely lose a Test series at home these days. It’s not the done thing. South Africa simply don’t lose them anywhere.

It is 1-1 going into Cape Town. Harris has match figures of 1/137 from the previous match in Port Elizabeth. 40 overs of bone grinding on bone. Pain and sweat. Australia lost. The top bloke looked done.

But Harris is the people’s champion. He has one last brutal effort left to give.

AB de Villiers and Faf had seen off 337 balls while trying to hold off Australia. Shades of Adelaide. Harris didn’t play in Adelaide.

With under 30 balls remaining in the Test, Harris’ knees are asked for one final mighty effort.

Another top bloke, Dale Steyn, has held out for 43 balls. On the 44th, he loses his castle. Harris wills the ball onto the stumps.

South Africa are nine wickets down.

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Two balls later the Test is over.

Morkel 0 (2) b. Harris

South Africa lose a Test series at home. The top bloke elevates his status to one of a nation hero, if he wasn’t already. His knee has no more to give.

It doesn’t need to. It has done more than enough.

Thank you Rhino.

Others will come who can swing the new Kookaburra. Others will come who can torture English skippers. Others will come who can pull out one final effort. Others will come who are top blokes.

None will be you.