Hobbling hero Ryan Harris earns Michael Clarke praise
Cape Town: When Ryan Harris hobbled into Newlands for the final day of the third test against South Africa on Wednesday, it seemed unlikely he would end up being the man to clinch the series for Australia.
But with the shadows lengthening on a day of hard graft for the tourists and just when it seemed as if the hosts would hang on for an unlikely draw, Harris`s double strike in the 94th over to remove Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel clinched a 245-run victory and the series 2-1.
"Ryan Harris was battling to walk at the start of the day, let alone run in and do the job he did for us," an elated Australia captain Michael Clarke told reporters.
"Credit must go to him and all our bowlers, they did a great job."
Harris admitted he was ready to face the knee surgery he has put off for three months but was pleased to finish the series on a high after disappointing in the first two tests.
"My knee`s ready for a clean out. I`m cooked," he said in a TV interview.
"South Africa were tough to budge but the way we battled was fantastic. I was hoping Mitchell (Johnson) would finish them off but I`m happy to play my part.
"I bowled poorly for the first two tests but found form and it was nice to get back among the wickets."
GRIT AND DETERMINATION
Clarke said the grit and determination shown by Harris typified the spirit among this Australian side which has battled back from lean times.
"It is our first bit of success away from home for a couple of years but it shows that we are learning and growing as a team. I can`t thank my teammates enough for their heart, attitude and hunger," Clarke said.
Clarke admitted the tense finish, in which South Africa got within 27 balls of saving the test, had left him wondering if he employed the right strategy in taking additional time to set a victory target of 511.
"I was questioning whether I batted for too long … you question everything, you are there to win the game, I would have been extremely disappointed if we did not get over line.
"But South Africa deserve a lot of credit for the way they performed, as a batting unit we can learn a lot from that performance, how they found a way to hang in there and put value on their wicket."
Clarke said he was sad to see Graeme Smith retire and believes the South African captain has more international cricket in him.
"He will get a lot of credit and recognition, but whatever he gets I think he deserves a lot more. He has been a fantastic leader and has been one of the greats of the game.
"I think cricket is a sadder place for seeing him retire, he is only 33 years of age, in my opinion I think he could have played a lot longer if he wanted to. I have learnt a lot from him as an opposition captain.
"The fight that South Africa showed today was credit to Smith."