AFTER almost 12 months of injury setbacks, this week marked the return to Shield cricket of fast bowler and fellow columnist Ryan Harris.
After his man of the match performance in last week's Ryobi Cup final for the Bulls, 'Ryano' finally made his much anticipated red-ball return on Day 1 of the Shield game yesterday against Tasmania at the Gabba.
It was the replay of his last match in the victorious home final last year.
I think I speak for most when I say when fit, Ryan, in my eyes, is the best fast bowler in the country.
Unfortunately his no-holds barred, full-throttle approach to cricket has taken its toll on his body.
It is, however, this attitude and competitive nature that makes him so successful when he is in full flight.
Day after day, over after over, he puts his body on the line for the good of the team, as we have seen in all levels of cricket, from his club cricket performances with Toombul to the peak of playing for Australia.
I'll never forget the MCG Test when Ryano was running into bowl and heard something crack in his ankle mid-run.
He stopped, paused, and tried a second time to run in from the top of his mark, only to find out he had broken his ankle.
Having seen some of Ryano's rehabilitation struggles first hand, I'm extremely happy to see him back on the park.
As any sportsman can attest to, injury rehab often consists of a 'one step forward, two steps back' approach.
For Ryan, it was more like three or four steps back.
I was in a surgeon's office with him in Melbourne a few years ago when the doctor told him his knee was that bad he would probably never play cricket again.
Had he been a racehorse, he'd have been put down, but through pure hard work, Harry (yes, he has a few nicknames) returned to cricket a few months later in Australia's 2010-11 Ashes series.
It was only during the recent Big Bash he mentioned to me he didn't know if he would ever bowl again, his shoulder giving him so much grief post-surgery I'm surprised the diet of painkillers and anti-inflammatories didn't make him glow in the dark.
The fact he has returned so soon after this latest setback is a tribute to the heart and desire he has to return to his peak.
I'm sure I'm not the only spectator licking their lips at the thought of a Harris v Ponting contest on a lively Gabba deck over the course of this game.
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