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Harmison looks to recapture past glories

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Tom Fordyce | 14:17 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Another series, another last chance for Steve Harmison.

It's the sub-plot that just won't go away. No matter how things change in the overall tale of the England cricket team, the Harmison story remains stubbornly the same: will this be the tour when he finally gets back to his best?

With the West Indies due up next, it's particularly pertinent this time around. It was in the Caribbean five years ago that Harmison hit his peak, bagging 23 wickets in the four Tests at 14 runs apiece, including that devastating spell of 7-12 as the Windies were blown away for just 47 at Sabina Park.

Harmison came back from that tour as the number-one ranked fast bowler in world cricket, the fiery figurehead of England's four-man pace attack, bearing comparisons to West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose.

When his team-mates talk about how dangerous a fit and happy Harmison can be, it's the 2004 version they hark back to.

It's understandable. In that year he averaged 5.6 wickets per Test, which compares extremely favourably to the career averages of Ambrose (4.13), Glenn McGrath (4.54) or Brett Lee (4.07).

Trouble is, a year-by-year breakdown of his Test career paints a rather less flattering picture.

harmison_graph02.jpg

Looking at his Test stats that way, it's clear that those 12 months were the exception rather than the rule.

Both before and after 2004, he's never got close to matching those figures. Factor in all seven years of his international time and his wickets-per-Test fall to 3.67, way below the fast bowlers above and closer even to Dominic Cork (3.54) than Darren Gough (3.94).

The uncomfortable conclusion is that the Harmison we've become used to in recent years - pallid and sedate following fast and furious, the failures chasing the heels of startling successes - is the reality; the destroyer of '04 a glorious, one-off blip.

His bowling action, so rhythmic and grooved during the last tour to the Caribbean, has suffered minor - but extremely significant - changes which affected his notoriously fragile confidence.

"If you look at someone like James Anderson, he releases the ball at the "12 o'clock" position, his arm straight," says Test Match Special summariser Simon Hughes. "In 2004, I did a lot of work on Harmison and his arm was definitively straight at 12 o'clock at the point of release.

"But when his confidence is low he can sometimes bowl at 11 o'clock, which means his arm goes beyond the perpendicular, affecting his length. He sometimes gets too close to the stumps too, which means he has to take a sharp left turn in his follow through to get off the pitch and avoid running on the danger area.

"That means his body is falling away to the off-side too early rather than follow through straight down the pitch, which causes him to lose his direction.

"He has quite an unorthodox action, so things have a tendency of going wrong if you are not quite on song. But these are minute differences which to a bowler are huge, but to the naked eye don't look like anything at all. And a lot of this is down to confidence."

Steve Harmison

The decline from the 2004 peak was rapid. After steamrollering the West Indies and New Zealand that year, he went to South Africa and fell apart - taking just nine wickets in the five-Test series at a cost of 659 runs, with an average of 73 and strike rate of 127 balls per wicket.

What about his record country by country? Are England fans right to think that a return to form in the Caribbean could presage a summer of scattering Australian stumps to the four corners?

The stats would suggest not. While Harmison's record against the weaker Test teams is impressive (4.6 wickets per match v the Windies, 5.5 v New Zealand, 4.5 v Zimbabwe, 6.3 v Bangladesh) he has always struggled against the big boys.

Against Australia and India he averages just 2.6 wickets a match. Against South Africa that drops to just 2.2.

By contrast, his predecessor as England's premier paceman, Gough, averaged 4.35 wickets per match against the Aussies. Gough also took his Ashes wickets at 30 runs apiece, compared to Harmison' 42.

harmison_wickets02.jpg

Is it just a case of Harmison needing a sympathetic captain to bring the best out of him?

Of the five England captains Harmison has played under, Michael Vaughan has managed to coax just over four wickets per Test out if him and encouragingly, Harmison has averaged 4.2 a match in Andrew Strauss's five games at the helm.

Another factor to consider is current Australia fast bowling coach Troy Cooley. During his spell with the England team, Harmison averaged 4.1 wickets per Test, well above his average.

"Cooley's departure was a massive impact on Harmison, the pair were very close," says Hughes. "I remember speaking to Troy at some stage during the first Test of the 2006 series in Brisbane (where Harmison bowled his first delivery to second slip) and he said he just wanted to put his arm around him - but he couldn't.

"Kevin Shine, who was England bowling coach at the time, was very into the biomechanics of bowling, attempting to work on body position and run-up, while Troy was more of a manager with the bowlers, working on confidence as much as technique."

It was another England captain, Mike Atherton, who summed up the Harmison dilemma best when he said, "England can't seem to live with him, and can't seem to live without him."

The figures above imply that Harmison's reputation as a bowler who is just a decent spell or run of games away from being a world-class paceman is unjustified.

But he's still getting picked, even after horror-shows like the 1-137 in Cape Town in '05, the abject match figures of 1-109 against New Zealand in Hamilton last year (bowled at almost the same pace as Paul Collingwood) and 1-90 in Chennai before Christmas. Matthew Hoggard would love the same forgiving treatment.

For England supporters it's particularly frustrating. How can a man who started the 2005 Ashes by cracking Langer on the elbow, Hayden on the helmet and Ponting on the cheek begin the following Ashes by hitting only Flintoff's hands at second slip?

For England fans, it's maddening to see Harmison standing in his follow-through, tugging at his shirt-front in puzzled manner after another delivery has slipped down the leg side.

It used to work, he seems to be saying. Look at Jamaica in '04, Lord's in '05, Old Trafford in '06 - so why isn't it working now?

England would love to have the 2004 variety of Harmison back in the team. We may even see glimpses of that form in the West Indies over the next two months.

His Test return during the fourth Test against South Africa at The Oval last year was a step in the right direction, supplemented by advice from his former new-ball partner at the Riverside Ground, Ottis Gibson, now England's fast bowling coach.

"Gibson has gone towards Cooley's method of management and keeping a very simple strategy," says Hughes. "I remember in the second Test in Sri Lanka in 2007, where Harmison had been out in South Africa and he missed the first Test.

"Gibson told Harmison to bowl a bouncer first up as he said it often got his body charged up and ready for a firey spell, plus you don't score any runs off a good bouncer. That immediately set Harmison up and gave him extra confidence."

But for that model to be the permanent one would require the sort of cricketing re-birth very few 30-year-old bowlers are capable of.

Comments

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  • 1. At 09:20am on 29 Jan 2009, thinkstuff wrote:

    Even if he produces good figures on this tour, the reality is that it could be completely unrelated to how he fares in the summer... And that could be just as damaging to England's Ashes hopes as any public spat and sacking could.

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  • 2. At 09:36am on 29 Jan 2009, Monkatron wrote:

    Harmison has had far too many chances. The return of an '04 version of Harmison would be a bonus for any team but we have to accept that this was a one-off blip in performance from an otherwise internationally below average and apparently disinterested bowler.

    And lets not think it was coincidence that he started showing an interest in the shorter forms of the game once the big money was available in India!

    Matthew Hoggard must be wondering what this bloke has done to deserve such preferential treatment. Hoggard had one bad game, coming back from injury too soon, and has since been overlooked at every available opportunity.

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  • 3. At 10:22am on 29 Jan 2009, whufc1985 wrote:

    This has been said many times in the past, but harminson is surely in the last chance saloon. If he plays he has got to take his chance, there can be no excuses this time. If he fails here or doesnt play then i think his test career will be over.

    The more you look at those figures (thanks for the info Tom) the more worrying it gets. It does seem as if 2004 - 2005 are the exception to the rule. It also appears that harminson is just a bully agains teams who struggle against pace. The better teams like the aussies and s.africa have been able to cope against him very well and have made him look very ordinary at times.

    Harminson does look disinterested at times and i would suggest that the only reason why we stick with him is because he can bowl at 90 mph

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  • 4. At 10:30am on 29 Jan 2009, thinkstuff wrote:

    Oh, and Harmison good in the Ashes 2005? Myth. He had a stunning first test, dismissed Michael Clarke with a great slow ball at another test, and that aside he was as absent as usual. The Ashes bowling depended on Jones and Flintoff, with the rest chipping in at various times.

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  • 5. At 10:51am on 29 Jan 2009, jovialStelladave wrote:

    I'm sorry but there's more to it than just bowling. Look at the man! Gutless, heartless, perennially "homesick". In Australia, abandoned everything because he just couldn't get back on a plane home quick enough. On the sub continent you can bet your house the first one with the "tummy" will be Harmison...but....how quickly things change when the IPL come rattling the cash tin. If we wanted a proper Test bowler then that man was poor Mathew Hoggard.....what an injustice!!

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  • 6. At 11:04am on 29 Jan 2009, CaptainBalrog wrote:

    Its cronyism and it has gone on for far too long, not just with Harmless but lots of other players. It’s actually not the bad players that get to stay in the side just because they’re one of the boys that really bother me; it’s the good players that don’t get a fair run because they aren’t one of the boys.
    It got beyond reason after they brought Giles in for Monty in the ashes.
    Then there was Phil Mustard who looked to be the best hope for an English Gilchrist that I’ve seen and yet he gets replaced by two Muppets who can’t catch or bat.
    Owis Shah, quite obviously a great batsman and he’s proved it more than enough times to not have to play second fiddle to Bell, Cook or the rest of the top order for that matter.
    What about Denly? He’s the most impressive youngster I’ve seen for a while.
    Then of course there’s Rob Key, he has suffered like so many other batsmen who started young and didn’t cut it. It doesn’t seem to matter how good you become later on, if you weren’t good first time round then sorry you missed that boat (Alright I’m a Kent fan but still it is ridiculous). Ramps would be another example of someone who has fallen foul of this one strike and you’re out attitude that appears to be applied very selectively. How many strikes will Harmless be allowed? How many was Vaughn allowed? How many more will Bell, Collingwood, Ambrose or Prior be allowed?
    ----------- BEGIN WICKET KEEPER RANT ---------
    On a side note I think that before we get all carried away with looking for a wicket keeper who can bat we might want to find one who can consistently catch a cricket ball. Oh that’s right we did have one who could do both very briefly but he had to go because he was too old, the fact that he was one of the stand out players at the world cup for England obviously wasn’t important. He must have eaten Vaughn’s lunch or something.
    ----------- END WICKET KEEPER RANT ---------
    Then there’s KP and his determination to get Vaughn selected even though he couldn’t bat his way out of a paper bag these days, soon after that we got an interview with Vaughn showing his support for KP, this is the most public display of the afore mentioned cronyism I have seen yet. At one time i thought most of this lunacy was probably a combination of Vaughn and the coach but they are both out now so why does it keep happening?
    There is only one place other than the England team where you can get away with this sort of thing, the UK Government.

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  • 7. At 11:13am on 29 Jan 2009, renrutmit wrote:

    its a simple as this Harmy has mastered the funny handshake. Hoggy hasn't, mores the pity. No not Moores the pity either, if you see what i mean, not sure if i do any more or is it any moore. Maybe somebody from the ECB could enlighten me, level headed and clear thinkers that they are

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  • 8. At 12:39pm on 29 Jan 2009, tsmedley123 wrote:

    Let's be honest, Harmison should be given a shot against the West Indies - if he pulls it out the bag then happy days. If not, then he's out. I think Jones needs to be involved if we're to win the Ashes - as does a different wicket keeper.

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  • 9. At 12:45pm on 29 Jan 2009, england_returns wrote:

    Thing is it is so temping to go for a player who we know can bowl so well and take wickets, which lets face it England do seem to struggle to do.

    I don't think Hoggy and Harmy compete, I think the plan is to have variety in the attack and Sidebottom and Anderson swing it, which has led to Hoggy being left out. Although the Pattinson selection was truely stupid, lets not select Hoggy at Headingley when the others are injured.

    Harmys role is the nasty fast bowler with plenty of pace and bounce.

    I am not sure Ramps got just one chance he did play 52 tests over ten years averaged 27 and only scored 2 tons.

    Wicketkeepers I agree on, although Prior does seem to have improved his keeping so he would be my gloveman at the moment.

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  • 10. At 1:04pm on 29 Jan 2009, Westdrop wrote:

    Interesting stats - I didn't realise quite how mediocre Harmison had been throughout his test career.

    Despite this, I think he needs to play. The man for me who should be missing out is Broad. Some players come in young, show promise and take the bull by the horns and cement their place in the team. For me, Broad hasn't done that. Shown promise, yes, but he's not a wicket taking threat. Harmison, Anderson, Flintoff and Sidebottom are. I'm not saying that Broad goes on the scrap heap, not at all, but for me he is not ready yet.

    Totally agree though that this is last chance saloon for Harmison.

    On the wicketkeeper topic - I've always thought this depends on whether you have a four-man or five-man bowling attack. If it's a five-man (including Flintoff) then Prior has to play, preferably at 6 for me as he is a better batsman than Flintoff. But if you've got 6 specialists, then Flintoff at 7, then there is nowhere near as much pressure on the 'keeper coming in at 8 to get runs - an average of 20 to 25 will suffice. In this instance the man has to be James Foster, but (like so many others) he is the forgotten man of English test cricket.

    First test lineup:
    Strauss, Cook, Shah, Pietersen, Collingwood, Prior, Flintoff, Sidebottom, Anderson, Harmison, Panesar

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  • 11. At 1:12pm on 29 Jan 2009, 1AWenger wrote:

    As Harmison fades away, Broad will come to the fore. Over the next two years I think he will develop into that 2004 version of Harmison. He has the same build and as he gathers experience and perhaps more strangth he will become a great bowler. Plus I think he'll become an all rounder, his batting technique is pretty solid.

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  • 12. At 1:27pm on 29 Jan 2009, kriswith wrote:

    I don't see how Harmison can justify a place in the side.

    Surely Anderson, Sidebottom, Broad and Flintoff are ahead of him and there are a few pitches in the West Indies where you might want to play two spinners in any case (might explain why there are 3 in the squad).

    Harmy can't be selected because of his pace as he doesn't have any nowadays, he can't provide the work rate of the others and his body breaks down every other test. If he wins an IPL contract then could luck to him but I don't want to see him in an England shirt again.

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  • 13. At 1:28pm on 29 Jan 2009, kriswith wrote:

    I don't see how Harmison can justify a place in the side.

    Surely Anderson, Sidebottom, Broad and Flintoff are ahead of him and there are a few pitches in the West Indies where you might want to play two spinners in any case (might explain why there are 3 in the squad).

    Harmy can't be selected because of his pace as he doesn't have any nowadays, he can't provide the work rate of the others and his body breaks down every other test. If he wins an IPL contract then good luck to him but I don't want to see him in an England shirt again.

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  • 14. At 1:53pm on 29 Jan 2009, boss1208 wrote:

    Give the lad a break, he always seems to be the whipping boy he isn't the only bowler on the team.
    We seem to be picking Broad more for his batting prowess at the moment than his bowling.
    How many times have our bowling attack got us in a postion to win games, then the batsmen have failed miserably, and yet, especially under Vaughan, the bowlers have been re-shuffled .
    I agree that the last Ashes series wasn't his best, but one thing you can't take away from the lad is his willingness to run in all day and bowl, and this is done when carrying various injuries, at least he doesn't shirk the job.
    Harmison is a rhythm bowler and the more he bowls the better, thats why after a season bowling with Durham he was the best fast bowler in the country again, and on that form he scares batsmen

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  • 15. At 2:13pm on 29 Jan 2009, Graeme Edgar wrote:

    Great article. I was happy that England jettisoned GBH after the New Zealand tour and his apparently very poor performance. I was suspicious of his return versus South Africa once he had performed the necessary penance for failing to show 'ticker', but I hoped that he would finally click into gear. This article suggests that, like Michael Vaughan, his top form was a deceiving blip never to be repeated and sadly, we have been chasing shadows since.

    Time to move on, but I dearly hope we are proven wrong - is there a better sight than Harmy rolling into the crease, throwing his left hand upwards and thumping the ball into the pitch to the general terror of the batsman. Also, Tom, he used to fiddle with the shirt even when the wickets were falling!

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  • 16. At 2:36pm on 29 Jan 2009, james wrote:

    Have to agree, I didn't realise he was that average? 2004 really was a great 1 off but I knew he failed in SA afterwards. It also shows how much we miss Simon Jones! KLets hope he gets back in ASAP!

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  • 17. At 2:40pm on 29 Jan 2009, barkonk wrote:

    Why Harmison and Monty keep playing for Enhland Baffles me.
    In Chennai, England lost maily becasue of these 2.
    I would play Anderson ,Sidebottom, Swann, andBroad?or JOnes if fit. Feddie as 4th bowler.
    This gives enough batting cover.
    remmeber aussies will be defensive as well this ashes.

    Cover your batting, score enough runs, and then bowl to your strenghts unlike aussies have done recently. Only then england can win.

    And no Harmison.Cant think of any bowler who has had so many failures but still gets picked

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  • 18. At 2:47pm on 29 Jan 2009, pityakka87 wrote:

    Can we please stop the Harmison bashing?
    You want to know why he's been selected, then look who his county side are (County champions 2008) and his stats for last season.
    Harmison took 60 wickets in the CC, the most for any fast bowler (prove me wrong someone if i am wrong). So not only was he the best English bowler on the County circuit last season, but better than any of the Overseas imports.
    England are a much better attack with Harmison included, full stoop!

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  • 19. At 3:04pm on 29 Jan 2009, mylittledonkey wrote:

    pityakka87, it's not really full stop is it? Because taking first class wickets is not the same as taking international ones. Especially abroad, where he's been a shambles.

    He's been on his last warning for two years, and even if we want to persist with him, selectors need to show some toughness as well as loyalty, or it lets players grow complacent. As the article below queries, does he really think this is his last chance any more? Why should he?

    http://www.sportwithoutspin.com/cricket090129harmisonchance.htm

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  • 20. At 3:08pm on 29 Jan 2009, barkonk wrote:

    County cricket is not same as the international standard.
    I am not convinced with his attitude when things dnt go his way or opposition players try to get into his skin.
    For England's good they need the pace and bounce of Harmison when hes in form, not looking for the form.

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  • 21. At 3:11pm on 29 Jan 2009, barkonk wrote:

    only 2 players in current England and International setup have befitted are Zaheer with his spell with Worcs an Sidebottom.

    Even Gibson took 10 wicket season before last i think. But is he International pedigree?
    I honestlly think thast this is indeed last chance for Harmison.
    He can bowl well against hapless Windies,get in frm home and away and then try to give it to aussies

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  • 22. At 4:10pm on 29 Jan 2009, Alpunk wrote:

    "So not only was he the best English bowler on the County circuit last season, but better than any of the Overseas imports."

    Whilst its true that 1st class wickets aren't an exact barometer of a bowler's international class, Harmison's return to county cricket last year did seen to indicate that there isn't exactly a mob of English quicks banging on the door. The seemingly never ending Harmison saga is caused by there being no international 90+ bowler come through the ranks in the past 6 years to replace him. Unfortunately, we seem to be stuck with him, at least for the time being - can anyone really press a case for Tremlett, Onions, Mahmood or any other county bowler instead? Everyone would love to see an English Steyn, Sharma, Johnson or Morkel coming through but there are no signs of it at the moment.

    I do think that Harmison gets too much stick. As infuriatingly inconsistent as he can be, he does work hard. The bowling run-up is a lonely place to be when your confidence is shot.

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  • 23. At 4:37pm on 29 Jan 2009, AlanSD wrote:

    This is an excellent piece. Rarely do you see an article using statistics to such a meaningful effect. Harmison's wickets per test average against SA, India and Australia is dismal. These are the 3 best teams in the world. The stats clearly show that Harmison is simply not good enough to dismiss high quality test batsmen on anything approaching a consistent basis.

    His record against countries like Zimbabwe, WI, NZ and Bangladesh suggests he bowls well at batsmen who are essentially decent county batsmen. This was backed up by him taking 60 county wickets last year.

    Unfortunately for Harmison, he will always be judged on his performances against the best teams, and the only conclusion one can draw right now is that he has never been good enough at the highest level of test cricket.

    The selectors persistence with Harmison is staggering. People may say "there's no one else to pick" but if we clearly know Harmison is not good enough at test level, why not give some other bowlers an extended run in the team to at least find out if they are good enough. It's not like Harmison has had one or two bad series. In fact, he's only had one or two GOOD series.

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  • 24. At 5:28pm on 29 Jan 2009, pyattl01 wrote:

    England are carrying harmison and anderson-both are not international standard anymore!
    Broad is under rated and under used and will be a force should open with sidebottom. Flintoff is over rated a worse bowling average than kallis and less wickets! The batting average differs by 20! Bring back hoggard

    the team should be

    strauss
    cook
    shah
    kp
    colly/bell/bopara
    prior
    broad
    flintoff
    Swann
    Sidebottom
    Hoggard

    The batting line up is weak



    England will play bell harmison panesar

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  • 25. At 5:50pm on 29 Jan 2009, jovialStelladave wrote:

    Jimmy's doing well....the rest don't look like their up to much.........hey ho!!

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  • 26. At 6:20pm on 29 Jan 2009, chilecricketer wrote:

    Its not rocket science,

    Harmison is simply the bowling equivalent of a Flat track bully. I´m not sure he quite has the guts under pressure to compete against the best. He undoubtedly has ability but he just doesn´t like the fight and against the very best that is the big difference.

    Hick has 136 first class tons, one in every 6.4 innings, he has 6 test tons, one in every 19 innings! Harmison is the same thing and I´m getting worried about Bell too.

    For me I would pick a keeper who is the best keeper, Chris Read. Playing a batter as a keeper is like what we did when we tried all manner of players as "allrounders" in the 90´s. If you have someone good enough then great, if not pick a specialist. We didn´t play Salisbury 100 times just becasue the Aussies had Warne. Why play Prior because of the likes of Sangakarra and Dhoni?

    Hoggard is the unluckiest man in English cricket. he has taken more test wickets at a better average than Harmison, runs in all day, has a huge heart and has helped win matches and series for England against proper teams (SA and India away for a start)

    Could go on allday, won´t though as starting to bore myself.

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  • 27. At 6:25pm on 29 Jan 2009, chilecricketer wrote:

    p.s. Flintoff should play at 8 as a bowler. He is no better a batsmen than Shaun Pollock, infact he is closer to Vettori with the bat than a test no 6.

    He is a great bowler though although incredibly unthreatening it would seem!

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  • 28. At 7:52pm on 29 Jan 2009, jovialStelladave wrote:

    Zzzzzz....oh dear! Is that Harmless getting smacked all over the park? By whom? Why, the Windies second string, that's whom !! Aaah! His test place is secured, fear not!...Oh well, glad that world order is restored,...........zzzzzzzzzzz

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  • 29. At 11:32pm on 29 Jan 2009, hollywollyzaler wrote:

    Hmm....so the jury is out again on Harmison eh? .........Haven't we done this before?

    Form or not, it isn't far off the time when age will naturally reduce Harmison's ability to generate pace for long spells..(many would argue he has never done that anyway!!!). I would say he doesn't have the accuracy/guile ability (of say Lillee or Willis) to prolong much after the next year or so .....

    I agree that Broad should be given more of an attacking commission. At the moment he seems to be being groomed into a tidy support bowler. Why not give him a Test or two on suitable wickets (in the WI) with a licence to just.... let rip..!!!

    I'm also strongly hopeful that Simon Jones can make a comeback this summer although of course he too will be in his 30's. But, he is a proven "significant" wicket taker...which has been hard for England to find since he got injured and importantly is not as one dimensional as Harmison, which for me would give him more longevity as a Test bowler.

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  • 30. At 00:31am on 30 Jan 2009, thickness wrote:

    i agree with pityaka, i am getting sick of hearing harmison getting bashed off every pundit and random reporter in the land.
    217 test wickets in 50 odd test matches is not to bad is it ?Its about time we backed harmison and england to win test maches again.

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  • 31. At 05:04am on 30 Jan 2009, renrutmit wrote:


    "Skipper Andrew Strauss (right) tries to coax Steve Harmison into action"

    Caption attached to photo from yesterdays play against WI "A"

    It about sums it up...........

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  • 32. At 10:49am on 30 Jan 2009, gravybeard wrote:

    A lot of this I feel is down to the constant nannying and mis-management by the England set-up - especially with regard to inadequate tour itineraries...it has cost Harmison the chance to become one of test cricket's greats.

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  • 33. At 3:51pm on 30 Jan 2009, Bwbipps wrote:

    I understand the temptation to give Harmison another chance, but if he proves to be wholly average yet again in the West Indies he should be scrubbed.

    I want to see Jones back in the side again--after impressing in the 2005 Ashes, his crime seems only to have been getting injured. He has some real fire in his belly, and we'll need a lot of that if we're to compete this summer.

    And as for the batting, I simply don't understand why Collingwood is there. Bell can be excellent, but he's inconsistent.

    If we're going to be taken seriously this summer, we need to throw some caution to the wind. Let's drop some of the tierd, mediocre wood and put together a fresh side. Yes, it'll be raw, and likely inconsistent, but it'll be full of passion, energy and a desire to impress. Unfortunately, I don't think Strauss to the man who can do this.

    Oh well. I'll just dream of Ashes glory in 2011!

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  • 34. At 5:02pm on 30 Jan 2009, Observer321 wrote:

    Harmison ha had a riculous amount of chance compared to other players, i bet other teams relish the oppurtunity for Harmison to play, he is awful

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  • 35. At 9:42pm on 02 Feb 2009, boss1208 wrote:

    After all is said and done, the game is over, we've been trounced, yet, after all the critiscism on here about Harmy, the lad still took the most wickets, move onto some of the other bowlers.
    I think the big problem people have with him is that he's an enigma, he wears his heart on his sleeve and isn't afraid to do what he feels is right for him and his family.

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  • 36. At 10:09pm on 03 Feb 2009, Tedfevastun wrote:

    Fact – batsmen don’t like facing fast bowlers; especially if they’re tall and capable of extracting unexpected extra bounce
    Fact – Steve Harmison is the only bowler in any of the names being touted in this discussion with a history of putting top Test batsmen in a bit of physical discomfort
    Let’s not get bogged down solely on stats when trying to justify selections. Some contributions are less tangible. You can’t put a numerical value on a bowler smashing a batsman’s knuckles, bruising his ribs or rattling his head in the can with a perfect bouncer. Similarly, it’s impossible to quantify or give credit for the number of times a batsman, relieved to get away from the ‘chin music’ gets out playing a slack shot to Harmy’s partner.
    Harmison get’s the extra selection chances because he has the potential to bring something that the others bowlers rarely offer – giving the batsman a good going over. Agreed, he doesn’t always realise that potential, but then I’d rather have an out and out quickie in the team than go back to the 80’s days of four trundlers and a 33rpm ‘spinner’.

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  • 37. At 10:57am on 04 Feb 2009, nippadunn wrote:

    Come on Ted. When was the last time "soft as clarts" Harmison hit anyone above the knee roll never mind the knuckles. You might as well argue that we should bring back Bob Willis or Devon Malcolm as they have the "potential" to bring something other bowlers haven't got.
    FACT - the stats prove that apart from 1 good year Harmy has continued to let us down.

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  • 38. At 12:31pm on 04 Feb 2009, boss1208 wrote:

    As I said Nippa, he still took the most wickets for us, thats a statistic!

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  • 39. At 9:21pm on 04 Feb 2009, Tedfevastun wrote:

    I give up! I should have known that I was batting on a green track trying to overcome the English love of medium pace. So why fight it.
    Let's get all the coaches out there to tell any budding young quick bowlers to chop their run-ups, half their pace and concentrate on line and length wibbly wobbly dobber dross. I can't wait to see the England squad once again chocka-block with bowlers made from the same mould as Pringle, Ealham, Ellison, Allott, Foster, Agnew, Martin, Mallender, Jackman, Newport (feel free to add here from the hoardes of drab trundlers we've selected in the past)..... and neither, I suspect, can the Aussies

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