Ryan Harris will forever be remembered as the bowler who got more than he possibly should have from his creaking, injury-prone body. He will be remembered for the will, determination and passion that enabled him to manage specifically-catered training and fitness programs just to get on the park.
Rarely has any player who has pulled on the baggy green had as much importance and focus placed on their individual management – whether through missing state cricket or even international tours - to make sure they were ready to pull it on again for the matches that really mattered.
The fact that Harris had been able to last as long as he did is a credit to him, but it seems the ultimate goal – an Ashes swansong - was finally a bridge too far.
In the professional sporting landscape in 2015, it is unusual for any professional sporting organisation, or the players that belong to it, to admit to any player being much more than one of many cogs in the wheel to success. The flood of support messages and testimonies form those that matter – Michael Clarke included – suggests that since making his debut, there has been no more important player for Australia than Ryan Harris.
“Ryno” possessed the rare ability to back up exceptional bowling talent with sheer force of will. His skill alone will be missed, but his determination to keep going through circumstances that would have any other player on the sidelines wrapped in bandages will remain the stuff of legend.
Unfortunately it seems his body has finally flown the white flag, unable to follow through on what the mind - and heart - wants from it. 27 tests from him will have to be enough, but there are plenty of highlights from those alone.
Who can forget that magic effort in South Africa when he bowled his side to victory and the number one test ranking on half a leg on day five in Cape Town? That performance alone would be enough to secure his legacy, but there are many more throughout a relatively short career that is already being celebrated across the world.
His performances in the 2013 Ashes series in England carried his side and paved the way for the success at home a few months later. One of the defining moments of a remarkable series dominated by a rampant Mitchell Johnson is Harris’ dismissal of Alastair Cook in Perth. That ball showcased Harris at his absolute best – pace, movement and unerring accuracy combing to produce a delivery that dumbfounded a world-class batsman.
Dedicated, whole-hearted, passionate, driven – these traits are obvious to all. Harris’ worth to the game off the park has come into focus recently as well. A coaching role with Cricket Australia during recovery and his own stated desire to continue with a career in cricket following his retirement are sure to mean the Australian team haven’t seen the last of him.
That fact alone is enough to make Australian fans smile.
Indeed, despite his retirement, Harris is staying in England with the team. What better mentor for the young crop of quick bowlers coming through than this man?
He leaves the game with his team in a better position than when he entered it, with that success in no small part due to his own contributions both on and off the field.
He has given more than most and we thank him for it.
Hats off to Ryan Harris.