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Ryan Harris retirement hands England boost ahead of Ashes

Australia may be odds-on 4/11 favourites with Coral to retain The Ashes, but they will have to do it without fast bowler Ryan Harris, who announced his retirement from cricket because of a knee injury just days before the first Test.

Losing a veteran of previous successes in this intense sporting rivalry has dealt the Aussies a major below before England open the five-match series against the visitors in Cardiff on July 8th.

“I have had a wonderful career and nothing made me prouder than pulling on the Baggy Green,” said 35-year-old Harris, who played in 12 Ashes Tests and took 57 wickets in them. “Given the news I received yesterday and after talking it over with my family, I know now is the right time to step away from cricket.

“I played 27 more Tests than I ever thought I would and I have relished every single moment of them. Walking away from the team and our support staff is probably the hardest thing to stomach right now. This is a very special team and I know they will do Australia proud in this Ashes series.”

Harris recently went for a scan on a long-standing knee injury, which required surgery in 2014, and such problems plagued his career. While this is a major blow to the touring Aussies, it provides Ashes hosts England with a big boost.

All-rounder Ben Stokes believes Australia are far from invincible, and this news on the eve of the series starting adds credence to that. “They have got some quick bowlers but there is nothing to fear,” he said. “They’re as human as we are. Whatever we get chucked at us, we are going to chuck back, if not a bit more.”

Odds of 7/2 say England will win the series, while they are 3/1 shots to open this year’s Ashes with victory in Cardiff.