As he prepares to match wits with his Australia team-mates Ricky Ponting and Ed Cowan in the Sheffield Shield final, Ryan Harris has admitted he was so consumed by keeping his place in the national ODI team that it resulted in his worst bowling in recent memory.
Recalled to the team for the triangular series against Sri Lanka and India after a break of more than a year, Harris was both expensive and wayward in his four matches, claiming only three wickets at the cost of 57 runs each while being taken for 5.51 runs per over.
They were figures in marked contrast to his Test efforts earlier in the summer and also his previous ODI appearances, and there was no surprise when he missed a place in the limited-overs segment of the Caribbean tour.
"The main reason I put it down to is I really wanted to be back in that one-day team," Harris told ESPNcricinfo. "After I got that opportunity I just tried so hard to be able to get wickets and bowl well, and in the end I tried too hard. It pushed me the other way. Normally I'd come back and be relaxed and just bowl the way I bowl.
"But I went over the top in trying too hard and ended up bowling a heap of rubbish, and so it's no surprise that I'm not in the West Indies now. But that's fine, purely my fault. A few people have said I shouldn't have been dropped, but I wasn't bowling well enough. That's the way it goes and I'm happy to be here now, working on those things that got me into the team in the first place, relaxed and bowling well."
There was plenty of anger in Harris, as much at himself as anyone else, at how his return to the ODI team unravelled, and it took time back in the familiar surrounds of the Queensland squad to regather his focus - helped by the presence of Queensland coach and former South Australia captain Darren Lehmann.
"The game [after being dropped from the national team] against NSW, I bowled 27 overs and I think I bowled about eight good overs," Harris said. "The game against SA I started off bowling a lot better and by the end I felt really good: my pace was back, I had the swing back ... So it's been a really good time for me to get back and play with guys I've loved playing with and just relaxing a bit more.
"Having Darren there has been good as well, he's calmed me down a bit. But it's been real good to get back and not try too hard. That's exactly what I was doing back in that one-day team and it's no coincidence that I tried too over the top and ended up being dropped from the team, because I wanted it too much. It's been good to get back to how I was bowling when I was picked for Australia in the first place."
Now Harris will lead the Queensland attack, likely to also comprise Steve Magoffin, Ben Cutting, Alister McDermott and the captain James Hopes, in the Shield final against a Tasmanian side well versed in the art of winning finals. Harris acknowledged the importance of Ponting and Cowan, but counselled McDermott and Cutting in particular not to be distracted by the identity of the batsmen they confronted.
"You can definitely get into that frame of mind, but I think I've played enough cricket now to know that whoever you bowl to you've got to get them out," Harris said. "With Steve Magoffin likely to play, he's another who's played a lot of cricket as well and probably won't get too wrapped up in the moment.
"Ali McDermott's our youngest one and Ben Cutting, they're probably the ones who may get caught up in that moment, but I've played enough cricket to know no matter who's at the other end, whether it is Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar or Luke Butterworth or whoever, I'm still trying to do the same thing and trying to get them out and not worrying about anything else.
"I've been asked a lot about Ricky and how I'm going to get him out, but if we worry about Ricky too much the other guys can get away from us. The guys are excited about playing Tasmania as well, because they know we've probably been the best two teams in this competition for the year."
Harris' winding journey from Adelaide to Brisbane has lifted him into the Australian team and now has him playing a first Shield final at the age of 32. He noted that the assistant coach Martin Love played in 11 finals in 16 years - Queensland's era of plenty - while Ponting has played only one in 20 years, though he has often been waylaid by the international schedule.
"It's half the reason I moved to Queensland, to play in finals, and they've played in two since I've been here and I've missed them both," Harris said. "A lot of guys go through their careers not playing in one, so for me to play in a Shield final is up there almost with playing for your country. We've trained really hard to get to this and it is a great feeling to do it with your close mates who you spend a lot of time with. For me to play my first one at 32, I'm really excited about it."