Ryan Harris ruined Chris Rogers’ return to the batting crease as both made low-key injury comebacks ahead of the first Ashes Test in three weeks.
The opening day of a two-day hit out on the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England, was the first chance for the veteran Australian Ashes tourists to show they’re on track for the opening Test against England in Cardiff.
With most of Australia’s Ashes squad resting after flying in to London from the Caribbean on Wednesday, the workout was most significant for paceman Harris in his first competitive match since the Sydney Test against India in early January.
Nursing his dodgy knees and having missed the Test series in the Windies due to the birth of his son, the 35-year-old took 1-45 from 15 overs for Hampshire’s second XI against an Elite Academy XI.
Harris’ only wicket was that of Australian teammate Rogers, who was caught behind for just two in his return from the concussion which forced him to miss the 2-0 series victory over the Windies.
The opening batsman’s next opportunity to prove he’s good to go for the Ashes – in what’s almost certainly his final Test campaign – will be against county side Kent starting next Thursday.
Harris is likely to also get a solid workout in that match, but his outing at the Newclose Cricket Club on Thursday was a good start when he produced the new-ball swing and seam that make him highly valuable in English conditions.
Given the Queenslander is likely competing with Josh Hazlewood – man of the series against the West Indies – for a spot in the pace attack for the opening Ashes Test, Harris will need to improve with every showing.
Meanwhile, a host of other Australians were amongst the runs and wickets on the windswept English island.
Allrounder Mitch Marsh (70) and Brad Haddin’s wicketkeeping deputy Peter Nevill (67) were solid contributors to the Elite Academy XI’s 8(dec)-283 after 70 overs, while South Australia’s leg-spinner Adam Zampa (4-69) was the pick of the bowlers.
His scalps included that of Australia’s star female batter Alex Blackwell for a duck.
In reply, Hampshire second XI were 3-132 at stumps, with Joe Gatting – nephew of former England captain Mike – unbeaten on 74.