Australian pacer Ryan Harris is set to miss next week’s Ashes opener, having been ruled out of Australia’s final warm up due to his troublesome knee.
Harris underwent major knee surgery last year, but struggled to get back to his best in the Test series against India.
The 35-year-old was rested from the second half of the Sheffield Shield season, but worked out a lot in the gym.
Harris then skipped the West Indies tour due to the birth of his first child and arrived in London feeling refreshed, stronger and fitter.
The veteran paceman returned to the Australian XI last week, taking four wickets in the tour game against Kent.
Harris was slated to face Essex this week in Chelmsford, but had to leave the field after bowling 30 overs in the match.
He still had a sore knee on Wednesday, when play started with Essex skipper Ravi Bopara winning the toss and sending the visitors in, and was replaced by Peter Siddle.
Coach Darren Lehmann, speaking after his charges’ 255-run win over Kent, noted Harris must be “100 per cent before we make him available for selection”.
“Ryan Harris has got to be fully fit,” Lehmann said.
“He’s got to prove to us he can bowl 20 overs in an innings or roughly about, and make sure he’s ready to go.:
“If he can do that he certainly comes into consideration.”
Harris suggested last week that he was keen to play all five Ashes Tests, but agreed with Lehmann he was running short of fitness.
“As much as I bowled in Brisbane on centre wickets, it’s very hard to simulate match intensity,” he said.
“My knee’s going to get sore here and there, that will always be the case, but my body itself feels really good.”
If Harris does not get fit by the start of the first Test in Wales, Australia will have to replace him with another pacer.