January 4, 2007

Fifth Test, Sydney

No Harm done

Gideon Haigh
A dejected Steve Harmison leaves the WACA, Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, December 18, 2006
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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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Posted by Vishnu on (January 7, 2007, 2:54 GMT)

Wow. That was I-R-O-N-Y, Si Baker? You sure you understand the meaning of the word? Re-read your words re: current Australian replacement stocks. Nothing very ironic there at all.

We certainly agree on one thing though: Harmison is a huge under-achiever, who does your team no favours with his moping slope-shouldered presence.

Posted by Smiddy on (January 6, 2007, 1:20 GMT)

harmy is a typical bully. get him in the situation he wants to be and he is frightning. Get him outside (an extremely small) comfort zone and is just a meek little pussy cat. You would have been far better off bringing willis and angus fraser back to bowl, they would have at least tried. Get rid of him and play someone who wants to where the English Cap with pride!

Posted by Si Baker on (January 6, 2007, 1:08 GMT)

Ever heard of the concept of I-R-O-N-Y, Vishnu? For what I really think of Warne & the current Australian team, I refer you to my comments on Gideon's final Ashes blog.

Posted by macca on (January 5, 2007, 22:28 GMT)

hmm,cricketer who has just been thrashed 5 nil after bowling his nuts off gives grumpy and refreshingly non spin interview.harmy has been getting pasted since the first ball ,and he simply does not have the steel of a waugh or ponting,what do you expect him to do,apologise for being himself.we dont have any better bowlers at present,we got beat by a better team.

Posted by Venu on (January 5, 2007, 14:56 GMT)

I think you can replace Harmison or Harmy for any one of these blokes: Strauss,Cook, Bell, Pietersen, Giles, Jones, Anderson, Read and Mahmood. Pietersen and Bell were by far the best Batsmen. but Bell's continued in-ability to convert good starts and Pietersen's inability to bat with the tail atlease in a sensible fashion merit consideration on the list. Farewell to Warne, Langer and McGrath and to Damien Martyn. I felt Cricket Australia should have invited him to Sydney for his farewell as well.

Posted by Tony on (January 5, 2007, 10:57 GMT)

Harmison is another splendid talent that for one reason or another will never dominate the game. Bruce Read is another, so is the Rawalpindi Express. Simon Jones may yet be another.

The question is, what will England do about it. Jimmy Anderson has heart, pride and talent, Sajid is erratic but shows quality, both get wickets and a team needs 20 to win a match. England need to look towards to these bowlers and develop them and the fringe bowlers like Tremlett and co.

During the 2005 Ashes I think Geoff Boycott made the comment that "form comes and goes but class is permanent". This would apply to Strauss, Pietersen, and maybe Collingwood . Probably even Bell and Flintoff if his captaincy isn't taken into account.

Harmison lacked intent, but was he any different to the rest of the English squad. Anderson and Panesar were the only English fielders with any intensity at all.

I recall Ricky Ponting blasting his team once because the debutants were leading the way and that isn't their job. I don't recall Flintoff blasting anyone, he thinks the efforts of his squad were without fault, no reprimands required.

The axe will probably and rightly fall on Steve Harmison, but it has some work to do before then.

Posted by mark on (January 5, 2007, 7:08 GMT)

to the english who think 2009 will be a cakewalk just because australia have lost Warne and McGrath think again, the lose of these two wont mean we will lose more often it will just mean we will win less and that there will be more draws. Our batting will be strong for at least the next decade with the likes of Rogers, Jacques, Travis Birt and Marcus North who all average more in domestic cricket then the players they will be replacing did at the start of there test life. Jacques for Langer, Rogers for Haydo and Birt for Symonds and the batting is as strong as its been for a decade. Gilchrist will never be replaced but im certain we have three or four better keeper\bats then Jones or Read. In WA we have a player very similar to gilly in Luke Ronchi and if you have a look he averages more then now then gilly did in 1995 before he was starting to get noticed, it wasnt till the sheild final of 95/96 that he came of age. Our bowling stocks on the other hand may take some time to gel but with Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus we have two who could possibly be world class but until tried you never know. Clark for McGrath seems the obvious choice and either Lee or Tait, i dont think we will see them both together as they both leak too many runs. As for Warne well hes just a freak and a once off a generation player who will never be replaced but with Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey we have something to work with, you cant read much into to spin bowlers domestic averages as our wickets dont do them justice, just check warneys Aust. domestic average. Anyway McGill will probably be still playing in 2009, his body would be fresh, hasnt done much for ten years. But without Warne means a lot more draws. Aus lineup for 1st test 2009 Jacques, Chris Rogers, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Travis Birt, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Johnson, Lee\Tait, Cullen\Bailey, Hilfenhause.

Posted by mark on (January 5, 2007, 6:36 GMT)

Harmisons biggest problem lies between his ears, he has the ability the physique, everything you would want in a fast bowler, but lacks heart and determination, playing for england seems like a job to him not an honour. It may be me but i feel he is a much better bowler undre Vaughans captaincy, he seems to give harmy that killing edge that you need to succeed especially against australia. This tour, bar the odd good spell, he hasnt looked anywhere near the Harmison i was expecting, i was expecting someone that was going to attack australia and help freddy in keeping the intimidation that they imposed on our batsmen the last series instead we got a shell of a man that gave no impression that he wanted to succeed for his country or have any pride in wearing his countries colours. One way to change this attitude would be to actually drop him and make him earn the right to represent his country, surely after Perth it was time to replace him, whats wrong with Jon Lewis or Stuart Broad surely they would have been better options for the future. But then Jon Lewis cant even manage to get into a touring party let alone a test team. Strange!

Posted by Mick on (January 5, 2007, 5:38 GMT)

Leave Harmison alone - he is a terrific player who just needs a little more luck on his side. He should be on every tour to Australia for the next 20 years at least.

Go Harmy Love - Australian batsmen.

Posted by JAZZY on (January 5, 2007, 4:37 GMT)

He has not lived up to his potential. He is a rare breed, a bowler who can regularly bowl over 90mph and has good height to get extraordinary bounce from a good length. How many other international bowlers have BOTH these attributes. The last I can think of is Ambrose at the start of his career. That is why I am so frustrated at Harmy he has the natural attributes to become the worlds greatest but for some reason it has not happened for him. Look against Pakistan at Old trafford how he had Inzi and Mohammed Yousuf jumping around like amateurs yet on other occasions he bowls tripe. I believe if he had the mental toughness of McGrath, Imran Khan or Steve Waugh he could just have easily passed the 500 mark like McGrath.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gideon Haigh
Born in London of a Yorkshire father, raised in Australia by a Tasmanian mother, Gideon Haigh lives in Melbourne with a cat, Trumper. He has written 19 books and edited a further seven. He is also a life member and perennial vice-president of the South Yarra CC.

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