Ryan Harris believes James Anderson ought to shoulder a big share of the blame for England's defeat in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston.

Anderson apologised to his team-mates after suffering a recurrence of a calf injury on day one of the series against Australia last Thursday.

England's leading Test wicket-taker was only able to bowl four overs as the tourists recovered from a poor start to win by 251 runs.

Anderson was passed fit to play in Birmingham after missing the one-off Test against Ireland due to a calf injury he sustained playing for Lancashire last month.

The 37-year-old will miss the second Test at Lord's and former Australia paceman Harris has questioned how he came to be selected for the start of the battle for the urn.

He told Omnisport: "All in all, it's easy to question Joe Root's captaincy but I'd put a bit of pressure on Jimmy Anderson, saying he was fit for the match and getting through only four overs.

"I know injury is injury, but to come off an injury and say you are 100 per cent fit for an Ashes Test match is a big call.

"Bowling in the nets to bowling in the intensity of a Test, let alone an Ashes Test, is very different. To break down after four overs, you could cop it after 20-odd overs, but after four overs puts a lot of pressure on your bowling unit.

"From the start Joe Root was sort of doomed, all Australia had to do - although they didn't in the first innings - was to grind the bowlers down as they knew they were a bowler down.

"They did that in the second innings. It doesn't help when your experienced, leading strike bowler does that."

Ryan Harris has hailed Aaron Finch's "outstanding" captaincy and believes Ricky Ponting helped the in-form Australia captain to "flick the switch" at the Cricket World Cup.

Finch was under pressure as he struggled due to a lack of runs against India at the start of this year, on the back of being axed from the Test side.

The opener showed his class in an ODI series whitewash of Pakistan in March and has lit up the World Cup, blasting two hundreds and three half-centuries at the top of the order for the holders in England.

Only opening partner David Warner has more than Finch's tally of 504 runs in the tournament, laying the foundations and leading his side superbly to the semi-finals with seven wins out of eight.

The defending champions are top with one group game remaining against South Africa and former Australia paceman Harris says the skipper should take huge credit.

Harris told Omnisport: "He's been pretty impressive for a while now. He's been through some pretty average times, form-wise, but you would not have known it.

"The way he has led the side has been outstanding, through good or bad he's able to do it very well.

"There were people calling for his head when he wasn't making a lot of runs against India and he's done a bit of work, flicked the switch and look where he is now - it's just amazing.

"He's done work with [Australia assistant coach] Ricky Ponting and it's great to see him get the rewards for what he has done and his captaincy has also been outstanding."

Harris also praised paceman Mitchell Starc, the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 24 dismissals after claiming outstanding figures of 5-26 in an 86-run drubbing of New Zealand at Lord's on Saturday.

"Starcy has copped a fair bit of criticism, about him not being able to do what he used to be able to do with a white ball, and he's answered that so well," Harris added.


Ryan Harris believes Eoin Morgan's "interesting" innings in England's defeat to Australia summed up why the hosts are in danger of missing out on the Cricket World Cup semi-finals.

England captain Morgan fell into a trap at Lord's on Tuesday, hooking a short ball from Mitchell Starc to Pat Cummins, who had just been moved to his left at fine-leg by skipper Aaron Finch.

Pre-tournament favourites England slumped to 221 all out, losing to their fierce rivals by 64 runs, and are in fifth spot after Pakistan's victory over Afghanistan on Saturday.

Morgan's side face a crunch clash with India at Edgbaston on Sunday before taking on New Zealand in their final group game, with Australia already assured of a last-four spot.

Former Australia paceman Harris feels England are shooting themselves in the foot with the bat and was surprised with Morgan's reaction to criticism from former players in his post-match press conference, including Kevin Pietersen claiming the skipper looked "scared" of Starc.

Harris told Omnisport: "It was an interesting innings from Eoin Morgan against Australia, I was a little bit disappointed with that.

"I also saw his press conference after the defeat and it wasn't a great press conference, very defensive. I noted Kevin Pietersen's comments as well that he was scared, which was interesting.

"It was an interesting innings at a time when he could have knuckled down a bit. I know that's not the way they play, they play hard and that's fine, but from personal experience we tried to do that for a while and it didn't work.

"We had guys going out there at 4-40 and try and hit themselves out of trouble and I don't think it works. It has worked for them at times but in a big game, like Australia, against a good attack, you are hedging your bets."

Harris, who will fly to England next week to coach Australia's A team bowlers, thinks Morgan's men can get themselves out of trouble.

"Maybe they need to pull it back in, look at the conditions and what the bowlers are doing," Harris, 39, added.

"Let's not discount them because of a couple of losses, they have been number one in the world and they have conditions. It's going to be tough but if they play well enough, they can win both.

"As a cricket fan and an Aussie, it would be nice to see them not make it, being cheeky, but I think they will make it."

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