Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane November 26, 2006

Harmison admits he froze

Cricinfo staff

Steve Harmison feels the strain © Getty Images

Steve Harmison has admitted he "froze" on the opening day of the Ashes at the Gabba. The first delivery of the match was so wide that it ended being taken by Andrew Flintoff at second slip. Harmison was all at sea, being taken off after two dreadful overs and eventually finishing with 1 for 123 as Australia piled up 602.

"When it came to bowling the first ball I froze," he told the Mail on Sunday. "I let the enormity of the occasion get to me. It all seemed so alien to me. My whole body was nervous. I could not get my hands to stop sweating. The first ball slipped out of my hands, the second did as well and, after that, I had no rhythm, nothing.

"I know my poor bowling was not for want of effort," Harmison continued. "I tried my nuts off. But I had a very bad day at the worst possible time and I won't deny my confidence took a knock. I am also certain, however, that I can turn things around, given the opportunity to do so in Adelaide.

"I've heard suggestions I should be dropped for the second Test. No one has an automatic right to a place, but does one game like this count more than the 46 caps I've won and the 180 Test wickets I've taken?"

Harmison found support from Vic Marks in The Observer. "We should dispense with the simplistic, emotional response that Harmison, because he is bowling poorly, is gutless, devoid of commitment or a hunger to play," Marks wrote. "These are the sorts of changes players resent the most, the idea that because you play badly, you are somehow a bad person. And they are generally nonsense."

Back in the Mail On Sunday, Dennis Lillee offered to help Harmison rediscover the form that helped him become the world's No. 1 two years ago. "The last thing I want to promise is that I can fix Harmison," Lillee said. "But I've seen technical glitches in his action which can be fixed easily if that person is willing to listen, learn and work hard to correct them."