LONDON (AFP) – Australia pace bowler Ryan Harris tormented England on the first day of the second Test at Lord's and then revealed he could have been an Ashes hero for the hosts.
Harris ripped the heart out of England's top order on Thursday with three valuable wickets, including two in five balls, to keep Australia in contention for a crucial victory in the battle to regain the Ashes.
The 33-year-old dismissed Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen and then returned to make another important breakthrough when he tempted Jonathan Trott into a rash stroke.
After England finished the day wobbling at 289-7, Harris admitted he could just as easily have been wearing England's colours instead of the famous baggy green Australian cap.
Sydney-born Harris has a British passport because his father was born in Leicester and, while playing for English county Sussex in 2008, he had considered committing himself to his dad's country of birth.
But Queensland, impressed by his form for Sussex, moved in to sign him on condition he committed himself to Australia.
Speaking in the England and Wales Cricket Board offices after play closed on Thursday, he said: "Last time I was in this building I had a meeting with (former England captain) Mike Gatting about that passport.
"I travelled here to play a little bit, and having an English passport made it a bit easier.
"But dad moved over to Australia when he was 10 or 11, so he was brought up an Aussie and brought me and my brother up as Aussies.
"It was a messy situation. I had a really good offer for Queensland that came through at the time, and that's where I thought I might have one last crack at trying to play for Australia. Obviously, it was the right move."
Thursday's success was a cathartic moment for Harris, who has battled back from a series of ailments that threatened to wreck his career following his belated Test debut aged 30 in 2010.
"It was a great feeling to be back, having that new ball in my hand this morning at Lord's felt pretty special," he said.
"It's been pretty frustrating absolutely. I know if I'm bowling well I can play at this level but for me it's trying to stay fit.
"I've got constant niggles which any fast bowler has so it's just a matter of managing that."
Harris has been plagued by a series of injuries including a chronic knee problem that will be with him until he retires.
The most frustrating of those injuries came during the 2010-11 Ashes series just as Harris was starting to fulfil his potential.
When he took nine wickets at Perth to help level the series, it seemed Australia had unearthed a real gem.
But Harris suffered a stress fracture to his left ankle in the fourth Test in Melbourne, England went on to win the series 3-1 and the pace bowler has never quite been able to shake off the injury-prone tag.
A shoulder complaint that needed surgery in 2012 left Harris sidelined for several months, while an Achilles injury earlier this year cut short his spell in the Indian Premier League.
But with victory vital at Lord's after Australia's 14-run defeat in the first Test at Trent Bridge, Harris was recalled in place of Mitchell Starc.
And Harris, who had taken 47 wickets at 23.63 from his 12 previous Tests, wasn't going to pass up this chance for revenge.
"There's been a few of those moments when I thought I might not get this chance. But I wanted to keep playing," he said.
"I thought Mitch missing out after what he did in Nottingham was a bit stiff, but that was the selectors' choice
"It's moments like this that made me want to keep going and play for Australia again."