Nathan Hauritz: Ryan Harris must be picked
THE battle for the Ashes may already be over, but 17-Test representative Nathan Hauritz insists Australia must still name its strongest side for the fifth and final Test at The Oval tonight - that includes his Queensland teammate, paceman Ryan Harris.
England, which leads 3-0, has never won four Tests in a home Ashes series and Australia is expected to make changes to its line-up to try and prevent that piece of history happening.
Hauritz was adamant Harris, who, if picked, will be playing a fourth consecutive Test for the first time in his injury-hit career, should not be one of the players omitted.
"With the series already lost, there has been plenty of talk about wrapping Ryano up in cotton wool and saving him for the return series in Australia, but that would be ridiculous," said Hauritz, an off-spinner who played three Tests in the last series in England.
"He has been our best bowler since he came into the side for the second Test at Lord's - he has been exceptional to be honest and he has the figures to prove it (Harris is Australia's leading wicket-taker in the series with 20 at an average of 19.25).
"Sure we may be 3-0 down, but you have still got to field your best line-up and Ryano would have to be the first name on your team sheet.
"But hey, I am not a selector so who knows what they will do, but if they did decide to rest him, I can tell you that I would hate to be the one to tell him.
"He's missed so much cricket in the past through injury and he'll be chomping at the bit to play every game he can - he wouldn't be happy at all.
"We need him to play - losing 3-1 reads much better than 4-0."
But Harris is not the only one of Hauritz's state teammates who might find themselves on the outer tonight.
Usman Khawaja has struggled at No.3 and is averaging just 19 from his three Tests, but Hauritz, who has taken 63 Test wickets, said he would not write him off because of it.
"Although he has not scored the runs in this series, there is no doubt he's a quality player," he said.
"Test cricket is not easy, and besides, there have been other young players, such as Damien Martyn, who have struggled early in their international career who bounced back.
"I am sure he will too."
Meanwhile, England batsman Ian Bell will join Sir Donald Bradman, Wally Hammond and Herbert Sutcliffe as the only players to score four centuries in an Ashes series if he reaches three figures at The Oval.