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Lehmann endorses Ryan Harris' World Cup bid

The Age logo The Age 10/06/2014 Chloe Saltau
Ryan Harris © Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Ryan Harris

Ryan Harris' ambition to play at next year's World Cup has received a significant boost, with coach and selector Darren Lehmann indicating the warrior-like fast bowler's mastery of home conditions would make him a great asset to Australia's campaign if his body permits.

Harris has not played a one-day international since February 2012 because of injuries and the selectors' desire to preserve one of the country's most valuable bowlers for major Test combat.

However, the 34-year-old's desire to rouse his battered body for a return to the ODI arena, and the importance of a home World Cup - a once-in-two-decades event - means Lehmann is prepared to recall him to the 50-over team.  

''If he is fit and going well, then no dramas," Lehmann told Fairfax Media. "He is a world-class bowler, full stop. So if he's fit and his form warrants it, we will certainly look at him.

"We haven't had a [home] World Cup since '92 so it's an important [tournament] and we need to make sure we've got everyone fit and ready to go.

"We always look at world-class bowlers. Especially with two new balls, in Australian conditions, he bowls well here. We've got to make sure we've got a big squad to pick from before we narrow it down."

Lehmann has direct experience of Harris' impact in one-day cricket as coach of Queensland. The summer before last, Harris decimated Victoria in the final of the Ryobi Cup at the MCG after a limited preparation. With the Bushrangers needing five runs from the final over, he cranked up his pace and captured the last two wickets.

Harris is recovering from major knee surgery and won't play in Australia's next Test series, against Pakistan in the UAE in October. His battle-weary body means he plays each game as if it's his last, but he defied multiple ailments to play eleven Tests in a row (and bowl Australia to a famous series win in South Africa) before having surgery. If he gets through the home Test series against India next summer, he could be recalled for the triangular ODI series against India and England that precedes the World Cup.

Lehmann admits the packed schedule will mean the selectors will again have to walk a fine line between picking their best teams and ensuring their best bowlers - the likes of Harris and Mitchell Johnson - are fresh for the Test series and the prestigious global tournament.

"We'll have to make sure we're up as best we possibly can but at the end of the day our most important game is our next tour, we play [a limited-overs series in August] in Zimbabwe," Lehmann said.

"So we've got to concentrate on that, obviously understanding we need our best players nice and ready to go for the World Cup and the Test matches. We will have to work out what we do there as a selection panel."

Queensland, meantime, has cut former Test spinner Nathan Hauritz from its list of contracted players. Hauritz had been eclipsed by young leggie Cam Boyce as the state's first-choice spinner. Harris is the only player with a Cricket Australia deal in the Bulls' squad.

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