Ryan Harris Australia Ashes
Scans showed the knee injury was more serious than earlier imagined, forcing Ryan Harris to take the drastic decisionReuters

There might be a few more days to go before the first Test match of the Ashes series, but the excitement levels are already reaching fever-pitch, with Ryan Harris forced to retire from the sport owing to a long-standing knee injury.

One of the key bowlers for Australia in recent years, Harris had to pull out of the final practice match against Essex due to a recurrence of his knee problem, something which has troubled him for years, and unfortunately for the Aussies, scans showed the issue runs a lot deeper than earlier imagined.

"Ryan unfortunately experienced right knee pain during the tour match in Canterbury which was consistent with his on-going knee condition," Australia physio Alex Kountouris said. "Whilst Ryan has had similar knee pain in the past, on this occasion it was more severe and he was unable to play in the Essex tour match.

"He had scans in London this week which revealed new damage to his existing knee injury. Unfortunately the damage to the joint means it is unlikely that he would recover in time to play a part in this series."

Harris, who probably would have hung up his boots after this Ashes series against England, decided announcing his retirement before the start of the series, rather than hoping against hope it would get better, was the better option.

"Given the news I received yesterday, and after talking it over with my family, I know now is the right is the time to step away from cricket," Harris said.

"I'm pretty lucky, I have had a wonderful career and nothing made me prouder than pulling on the Baggy Green.

"I played 27 more Tests than I ever thought I would and I have relished every single moment of them."

Pat Cummins will replace the accurate and seriously-good bowler in the squad, and Darren Lehmann, who was preparing for life without Harris for the first Test match in Cardiff anyway, will hope the other pacers in the team step up.

"I was lucky enough to captain Ryan as a grade cricketer, a rookie player and as a state cricketer," Lehmann said. "He was one of the most talented players I had ever seen.

"Ryan always gave it his all for his country and he epitomises everything the baggy green stands for. His never-say-die attitude was his signature as he left absolutely nothing on the field each time he played and I think that is something for which he should be incredibly proud.

"The team and I are certainly very proud of everything he has achieved on and off the field and we wish him all the best in whatever he decides to do next."