Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 2nd day January 3, 2007

Harmison still searching for answers

Steve Harmison cranked up the pace at the SCG but it only added to the frustrations of the series © Getty Images
It was a good day at the office for Steve Harmison. He bowled 16 overs for 34, and picked up two important wickets as well. But he knows, better than anyone, that it has all come too late for England in this Ashes series, and afterwards he admitted his frustration at the inconsistencies that have dogged his career.

"It is frustrating for me and I'm sure it's frustrating for everybody watching," said Harmison, "but I'm trying my hardest. If you see me at the end of each day I've always given everything I possibly could. I can't do anything more than keep trying."

Three more days of effort is what it is going to take for England to avoid the dreaded whitewash, but Harmison at least has the memories of England's last Test at Sydney, when they defeated Steve Waugh's men to salvage a 4-1 series scoreline.

"I'm the only one left that's been in this position before of being 4-0 down going into Sydney," he added. "We won last time and hopefully we can draw on that and give it one last effort to spoil the party. We're trying to win a Test match and three fine cricketers are going out at the end of this match. England want to win it.

Harmison bowled a good line to the right handers, especially in the final session. Click here to enlarge

© Hawk-Eye

"I think we're in a good position," he added, after restricting Australia to 4 for 188 at the close. "We're pretty happy although going out for those last 11 overs we'd have been happy with one more wicket. If you show patience as a bowler and stick it in the right area things will happen."

Once again, Harmison was overlooked for the new ball, which was shared by Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson, but he insisted he wasn't bothered. "I will do what my captain says. I will do what my team wants me to do," he said. "It's not passing the buck because all I want to do is play for England.

"I'll do whatever job I'm asked to do, to play for England to the best of my capabilities," he continued. "Fred has taken the new ball at Adelaide and taken early wickets, and he's taken the new ball at Perth and got a couple of wickets, and he did the same at Brisbane. I have just got to bide my time." In fact, Flintoff went wicketless at Perth, but it was not for want of effort.

"I didn't have any rhythm at all today," said Harmison. "I tried to be patient and put the ball in a good area rather than try and take wickets all the time. I didn't bowl the 90mph balls that I can bowl. My speed was down but my rhythm was off and I'm reasonably content with the way things have gone. But it would be nice if I was bowling 90mph and putting the ball in the right areas."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo