Fifth Test, Sydney January 4, 2007

No Harm done

A fast bowler of enormous gifts, but a cricketer who makes Martin McCague look like a lionheart.

Steve Harmison bowled pretty well yesterday and fronted the media last night with rather more fight and aggression than he showed in his first over in Brisbane. ‘At the end of the day I don’t know what else we could have done.’ ‘At the end of the day I try my hardest’. That’s the trouble, really: from Harmison, it’s always at the end of the day. This is his 50th Test, and he is a middling first-change bowler: the personification of English underachievement.

Having loosened up, Harmison also gave a surly interview to Mike Atherton on Sky. Was he sad to be going home at the end of the match? No. Looking forward to putting his feet up. What would he be doing to make sure he was ready for the first test of the English summer? Didn’t know: waiting for Duncan Fletcher to tell him. I'll give him points for candour, but the sentiment was subtly revealing.

You'd never catch an Australian player giving an interview so doltish and doleful. Then again, this is also the man quoted a couple of days ago by my esteemed Guardian colleague, Richard Williams, as saying: ‘The only reason why people are saying all these things about under-preparation and loss of team spirit is because we're 4-0 down. If we were 4-0 up they wouldn't be saying any of it.’ Well, yes, and were I Harmy’s height, noone would call me ‘Shorty’. Frankly, he may not be that much of a loss to this touring party: a fast bowler of enormous gifts, but a cricketer who makes Martin McCague look like a lionheart.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

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