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.
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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Vishnu on January 5, 2007, 3:38 GMT

    Si Baker: Making the big calls: "Enjoy it while it lasts, you smug Aussie bastards: the great whirligig of cricket history is about to turn widdershins against you".

    Guess Gideon is just trying to be objective....

    Mr. Baker, Australian cricket has for no small reason been at the top of the heap for a very long time. Several departing cricketers have been a big part of that success over the last 15 years, but they are only products of the processes out here that produce such great cricketers. Australian cricket won't just fall in a heap, like your flash in the pan team of 2 years ago. There is a very strong gress roots system in place in this country that just keeps on turning high class cricketers. So before you shoot off your very loud & crass mouth again, think about where your lot is going to get a side together worthy of competing with Australia's best. By no means does your country have anywhere near the mechanisms in place to unearth cricketers like Australia does. Have the good grace to acknowledge a great side, & try not to embarrass yourself so publicly again this year. You have a lot of cricket ahead of you...

    Team on the decline: ENGERLAND!!!!!!!

  • Jules on January 5, 2007, 3:29 GMT

    I have to wonder what test series MARK has been watching. Gilly's out yesterday is a testament to umpires getting it wrong occassionally, but to be so deluded as to think that all 96 english wickets taken in this series have been due to umpiring mistakes shows a certain mental deficiency of the highest magnitude. the ball has to be bowled inline, pitch inline for LBW's, the ball has to head towards the wicket for it to be bowled, fielders have to be accurate with their throws for run-outs(and back up which woManhood failed to do), the keeper has to be quick and aware of opportunities for stumpings... Other side of the coin, batsmen have to come out and make the most of their opportunities. Yep, Warne should have been out yesterday for 7, however, that opportunity was given again before he went on to rack up 71 (plus - he's a goddamned bowler for chrissakes), Gilly was erroneously given out and who knows how many he might have gone on to get considering how well he was batting at the time.

    England failed spectacularly at batting and their bowlers just couldn't make up the shortfall.

    I watched Harmy's first over at the Gabba and just knew it was going to be an indicator of how the series would pan out. He bowled some decent balls at the SCG, however, Harmy, like the rest of the English team just seem to be lacking ticker. Trescothick going home before it even started, Hoggard pulling a heartlidge (good move not being associated with the 5th loss), KP's reluctance to baby-sit the tail in crucial situations, Giles dropping Punter, the entire fiasco (from the poms point of view) that was Adeliade (but what rivetting cricket).

    Advice to the English cricket side, go home, don't lick your wounds though, prepare, work on your team, your heart, your passion for game and country. And don't for one second be fooled into thinking that because Warne and MacGrath won't be around in 2009 you'll get more of a look-in if you're as unprepared as this series.

  • Vishnu on January 5, 2007, 3:23 GMT

    muth_baaj: Steve Hamison has had more than the one bad series here! He has repeatedly underperformed away from the comforts of home. He is soft & heartless. A player who only seems to show up when he's surrounded by all things familiar & friendly. Harmlessone would never ever get a game for Australia...you need 'ticker' for that. Something this big bad bowler (heehee) has precious little of!

    What's with finally giving him the new ball again in England's last test innings of the summer in this country & him showing England fans what he can do by worrying Langer & hitting him in the ribs? Please!! What a joke (or, should that be joker?) of a bowler!! Gutless performer.

    Anthony Marshall: You are very wrong about Strauss. He has looked woefully out of sorts on this tour. No honourable mention whatsoever. This man has looked like a chicken in the yard... scratching around with very little idea. Sure he got a couple of duff decisions, but that's life. He has failed miserably & he has been made to look exceedingly second rate. Another English bat that promised so much, but could not adapt. Two English players can hold their heads up: Hoggard & Panesar. Pietersen needs to go have a good hard look at himself & the way he bats with the tail. A show boat who didn't back up his very big mouth.

    England got what they deserved, a comprehensive drubbing.

  • Terry on January 5, 2007, 3:15 GMT

    when you lose a series 5-0 all participants comments will be analized harmys comments should be taken in context but im glad hes a pom

  • Kurious Oranj on January 5, 2007, 2:51 GMT

    Suggestions that Harmy has had "one bad series" are a bit bizarre - since his admittedly very good 2004, he's been utter pap:

    2002: 10 wkts @ 46.1 2003: 31 @ 24.3 2004: 67 @ 23.9 2005: 46 @ 34.9 2006: 33 @ 38.1 [2007: 2 @ 46.5]

  • Jag on January 5, 2007, 2:03 GMT

    Disgraceful.

  • Anthony Marshall on January 5, 2007, 0:53 GMT

    Basically there are very few English players who can hold their heads high and Harmy is not one of them. Flintoff and Hoggard for the bowlers, with an honourable mention to Monty. In the batting department, Pietersen started ok, but never really stamped his authority. Honourable mention to Strauss who had a shocker of a tour mostly due to the umpires.

  • Jan Gorak on January 4, 2007, 22:50 GMT

    I wonder what someone like Eddie Paynter would have thought of Harmison--five foot nothing, worked on a brickyard, and played for england with pneumonia. What a big soft nelly Harmison is!

  • Saumil on January 4, 2007, 22:33 GMT

    Harmison has always been over-rated as a bowler. Apart from one good series against a mediocre West Indies team a few years back, he has hardly done anything worth mention. His answers sum up the attitude of the England team during the Ashes 2006.

  • Brian Carpenter on January 4, 2007, 22:21 GMT

    I was pleased to see that someone else found Harmison's interviews as embarassing, and, frankly, moronic, as I did. As I've said at http://different shadesofgreen.blogspot.com he was clearly toeing the party line but do these people seriously expect us to believe that there's nothing more they coud have done?

  • DaveO on January 4, 2007, 22:07 GMT

    Gideon, we can take the final proof that the deluded Harmy is clearly not Curtley reincarnated, but "Makes Martin McCague look like a lionheart"???

  • matt on January 4, 2007, 22:06 GMT

    Jez, just to clarify the problem with most of the cricketers we produce is that they are crap . however our stevo is a different and vastly more complex kettle of fish. the guy must have some severe mentle issues, i mean have you ever been to Durham, in january!! Imagine you or i given his talent and situation, playing the game you love in warm sunny climes on beautiful, packed grounds. but no he wants to sulk off back to his miserable freezing home town. he wants his arse kicking all the way back there and should never be allowed to put on an england shirt ever again, his pathetic miserable attitude makes me embarresed to be english!

  • Flakey on January 4, 2007, 21:52 GMT

    Comments like "unless Harmy gets a lot of wickets, England have no chance of bowling out the Aussies" may not have been particularly helpful. Harmy may not be a leader in the sense required - but I think that you would find that he would do very well as a first-change bowler coming on after a couple of world-class opening bowlers ie McGrath and Lee, much in the same way as Clark has. The critics may have to accept that he was never going to fulfill the role they would have liked him to. In addition, it is horrifying to think that he had more experience of playing Test match cricket in Australia than anyone else in the England squad (4 Tests, to Hoggard's 3 and Giles' 1). Never mind the batting ! It would have been nice to have something to bowl at every now and again. Roll on Summer 2007 and very best wishes to Steve, if you should ever read this. Howay the lads !

  • LJB on January 4, 2007, 20:29 GMT

    Firstly, Harmison must have been consistant to be able to become the number 1 bowler in the world. Could it be anything to do with the depature of one Troy Cooley? Harmison is a confidence bowler and a change of coach can not be under estimated. i think his response stating that he's looking forward to going home shows a more serious undertone than perhaps we realise.

    Since the last Ashes series Australia have played 3 Test series including the super series (to England’s 4) only 1 of which was away (to South Africa) a total of 7 tests. Not including the DLF and ICC ODI Australia only played 9 ODI in this time. The DLF and ICC tournament were Australia’s first international matches since April of 06. (Fair bit of rest there)

    On the other hand England have played 23 ODI (home and away, not including the ICC Trophy) and 12 Tests (6 home and 6 away). I think the longest gap was between the home series against Pakistan and the ICC trophy.

    No wonder Harmison wants to go home. If you look at the injuries within each camp it does call into question England preparation. But then Australia’s preparation time would have been any coach’s wet dream (no series from April until the DLF cup) Not to mention the ‘down time’ players could have with family…now there’s an idea.

    I guess I’m working my way to the issue of player ‘Burn Out’. It is very easy to be ‘up for it’ when you haven’t been on the road forever and have been able to focus solely on a series with nowt in the way (other test series etc).

    After what happened with Tresco I think only a fool would say ‘burn out’ doesn’t exist.

  • Paul Carlos on January 4, 2007, 18:42 GMT

    Harmlesson is a gutless spineless joker, who does not appreciates the talent he has. No wonder its disappearing. Truely the most ridiculous statement of his was made about him falling Ponting in last years Ashes. After that statement he should have boarded the plane ahead of Trescothic. Because clearly Trescothic has an excuse. What's his?

  • Colin Hugh Abbott on January 4, 2007, 17:51 GMT

    Last year, the English cricket team got gongs from the Queen. This year, they got the gong again - this time from the Aussies!

  • Colin Hugh Abbott on January 4, 2007, 17:48 GMT

    No wonder England lost the Ashes - their bowlers are outmoded - they're old hat!

  • Ol on January 4, 2007, 17:42 GMT

    The inconsistency problems with Harmison, Anderson and Mahmood, and Flintoff not being fully fit, all help to show up just how important, and under-rated, Simon Jones has been.

  • ed smith on January 4, 2007, 14:31 GMT

    Harmison seems like a player who does not appreciate the fact that he has the ability and chance to represent his country at cricket. There can only be serious question marks over his commitment and 'heart in this latest ashes series. Tremlett and Broad are two players who maybe have more heart and ambition than soft lad harmy

  • Sphagnum on January 4, 2007, 14:07 GMT

    When you're bowling against one of the best, if not the best, batting team in the world, it is vitally important for you to maintain some consistency.

    Harmison bowls rubbish most of the time and his good spells are too few and far between.

    Personally, I believe there isn't that bigger gap between these two teams, it has just come down to a question of execution.

    Australia have Executed England here and I think the Pohms can learn a hell of a lot from this series in preparation for the next Ashes which should be an absolute ripper.

  • Reason on January 4, 2007, 13:42 GMT

    The 'trouble' with Harmy is that if the pitch has pace and bounce he's deadly, and if it doesn't he's ineffectual. England just need to get better at reading pitches and leave him out of the tests that don't suit him. The ODI side is useless so how they could leave him out and let him retire when the World Cup is in the caribbean is beyond me. Would have been a gamble to take him, but at least one with a chance of coming off.

  • hoss on January 4, 2007, 12:59 GMT

    Harmison is indicative of England's entire Ashes series. Underprepared, and then, once prepared, underachieving. He should be an opening bowler, and a menace, but instead is relegated to first change. He is probably still paying for that first delivery of the series. Harmison's lesson to all of us is that we can't take talent for granted, or victory for that matter. He and England have demostrated what happens when we do. Meanwhile, Australia continue on their way to a 5-0 win.

  • Justin B on January 4, 2007, 12:42 GMT

    The frequency with which we hear some England players say "it's not for lack of trying" is instructive here. I can't remember the Aussies doing it in 2005, and, behold, they nearly won Edgaston, clung on at Old Trafford and scared England at Trent Bridge. International cricketers are supposed to practice hard and I don't think anyone has suggested England actually don't. Questioning their heart is different and perfectly valid because this lot have lacked electricity since they all got p*ssed after the Oval. We've had moments but not the total focus. It is this that gives you the belief to convert opportunities you have created, and our arrogance in saying "nothing matters until Australia" contrasts with the hosts' winning every game but one since losing the Urn - for them, EVERYTHING has mattered.

    Harmison's retirement from ODIs was a decision taken to allow him to go home after this series. To do that with the World Cjup looming means he doesn't believe he can win it for us. What are the stats here? What has he done for us since we won the Ashes or since he was number 1. If he's not producing the right averages he shouldn;t be in the team in the hope of something special. Excellence in bolwing is about substance - accuracy, pressure, not sporadic genius.

  • Martinez on January 4, 2007, 12:38 GMT

    He lopes in without much fire these days, so at the end of the day we can't expect him to fire up in an interview.

  • Amjad on January 4, 2007, 12:26 GMT

    Having listened to Harmisons interview it was a confirmation of all that is wrong with the current team on the ashes tour - "trying his best" and "having one of those days" are sentiments that no self respecting cricketer should utter - we expect a degree of heart and fight within those that represent us on the international sports field.

  • Gerard on January 4, 2007, 11:56 GMT

    As an Australian watching this highly anti-climatic series (save for a few retirements and brilliant performances) it seems to me that England are looking for scapegoats. To an extent Harmison is right, the criticisms only follow unfavourable results, but surely the media and cricket watching public can see that the difference between these two sides is more than just one or two players. England as a unit have been wiped off the park, on 21.5 of 23 days of test cricket.

    At the end of the day, a capable England side have been comprehensively beaten by a more skilful, hungrier, more determined outfit.

    This England side have shown glimpses of promise (Panesar, Bell, Pietersen, and in the Sydney Test Anderson), and have performed at a level that would beat several other test playing nations. Pietersen is a batsmen of the highest calibre, and with time should develop into a mature middle order player. Similarly Monty Panesar has the talent to take 400 or more test scalps. The telling factor will be whether or not the English team can develop the winning culture and positive attitude that has made this Australian side so successful. From the perspective of competitive, healthy test cricket, I hope they can.

    Bring on Ashes 2009

  • Gordon Booth on January 4, 2007, 11:53 GMT

    I was pleased to Jonathon Agnew speak with Mervyn King of the Bank of England and to hear his ideas of where English cricket is heading.They are taking cricket back to grass roots level and encouraging competetion at junior school level.This apparently has been outlawed at English schools for years so that children always end up "even." He spoke also of the English,American and Australian university systems and of the competitive nature of business and felt that the English idea of competition was the equivalent of Australia's "she'll be right" attitude.His appraisal of Ricky Ponting's purposeful stride to the wicket was that it was something to be admired.My own personal opinion of England's ashes attempt was that they came here complacent as Australia did in England in 2005 and paid the ultimate price.Nobody knows how much that defeat hurt and stung Australia into action.It also made Cricket Australia realise that cost cutting on coaches does'nt pay.They chased Troy Cooley and got him,they also re-instated Mike Young as fielding coach and it showed.I thought Mahmood's attempt at a run out of Shane Warne today was pathetic and that an u/17 player may have made a better attempt of it.Also I'd like to add that Andrew Flintoff has been a great trier for England and deserves a better fate than what awaits him.If I was him I'd backhand Cook for the shot he played on the 4th day, cheers ,Gordon

  • Ali Evans on January 4, 2007, 11:52 GMT

    I think his comments reveal his real attitude, he is not a consummate professional and doesn't really appreciate the opportunity he has in representing his country. I am fed up with England cricketers with an attitude like this, there are dozens of county players who would kill for the opportunity to play in the ashes....granted they may have less natural talent than him but they would certainly relish the opportunity and give it 100%. South Africa or Australia would have dropped someone like him long ago, you don't become a player like Mike Hussey or Brett Lee without total dedication to your role.

  • spence on January 4, 2007, 11:43 GMT

    I've never been so exasperated/infuriated by a cricketer in all my life:harmison is a total embarassment.Can anyone imagine larwood,tyson trueman,snow,willis and botham performing like this?They all gave their guts in ashes battles,winning some,losing some,but ALWAYS giving everything:can "big harmy" say the same?Even today,when England needed him to at least ping it down 143-149km to hurry up the opposition he couldn't rouse himself(even rookie mahmood was bowling 145km regularly).All the talk about losing cooley etc is a nonsense;the man has played(turned up for) 50 tests:how much more hand holding does an experienced player need?The quicker England are shot of him,the better.Give Broad,Tremlett and Mahmood a go;they couldn't be any worse.The word "Harmison" has fast become the dictionary definition for "delusional"or "lacking substance".Rant over.

  • paul on January 4, 2007, 11:40 GMT

    I feel one of Englands' main problems is players coming into the side replacing players who have left little to aspire to, not only in performance but also in attitude.The last player to seem to match it with Australia was Botham. Look at Australia now with their retirees,those selected to replace them know what the standard is and you can bet that the sides'performance won't fall away too much before lifting again.Did England bestow too much on the players after their Ashes win at home? OBEs,MBEs,parades,etc.The attitude in Australia is one of expecting to win,and those in the team had better keep up to the mark.When was the last time Australia had a parade for one series win in a row?

  • Ivan Monaghan on January 4, 2007, 11:25 GMT

    Why do players like Steve Harmison consider it a chore to be a professional sportsman? I have been at the WACA on a 25 degree day under a clear blue sky and thought to myself " What could be better than being out there fielding today?" I would do it for $40000 a year and be thankful for every second that I played and would never-for any of those seconds-forget how fortunate I was.

  • Kaushik on January 4, 2007, 10:53 GMT

    I think the HArmison at home and away are too different entities. Ever since the amazing 7 for in the Caribbean, he has failed to reproduce that sort of form in the away games. This I think can be attributed to the fact that he does get home sick and does not enjoy touring particularly from the impression he conveys. But, the whole point is he's too good a talent to be ignored and he needs to start being counted among the ones to deliver. He needs to put his hand up more often

  • raj on January 4, 2007, 10:42 GMT

    Jez, You left out India. Virender Sehwag, Ajit Agarkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohemmad Kaif, Irfan Pathan..well, not exactly world beaters except Sehwag but under-achievers surely.

  • Mat on January 4, 2007, 10:27 GMT

    All teams and players have patches of poor form (although 5-0 is exceptional), however it's the attitude displayed in interviews like this that demonstrate that his whole heart simply isn't in it. He seems to regard it as some kind of joke. Some of Flintoff's interviews have been equally childish and he has set a poor example in this respect. Perhaps management should keep Harmison away from the media...or at least tell him what to say, just like it appears they have to tell him how he should prepare for a match. (Professional sportsman?)

  • Brenno on January 4, 2007, 10:27 GMT

    A professional sportsman who gets homesick? What a joke, Slasher Mackay hardly spent a Christmas at home for 20 years. Go and work at Tesco's if you don't want to leave your street.

  • Julian Evitts on January 4, 2007, 10:10 GMT

    I'm hartily sick of Harmison's whinging and feeling sorry for himself. He's meant to be England's leading fast bowler. Most people would give anything to have the talent he has. If he's not prepared to give everything and bowl his balls off, if he doesn't WANT to be there, he should say so and let someone who is prepared to give their all have a go.

    His comments after taking wickets at Old Trafford against Pakistan last summer really wound me up. Yes Steve it would be lovely if every pitch was like that, but they're not. You need to bowl like that every game, not just when you think the pitch is to your liking.

    We also keep hearing about how Harmison needs an arm round the shoulder, say nice things or he'll cry approach from the captain and management. That hasn't really been too successful on this tourhas it? Perhaps he needs the riot act reading to him instead.

    Simon Jones is hoping to be back for the start of next season, Anderson is bowling better again and if England had any sense they'd look at four bowlers instead of five until they find a wicketkeeper who can bat at seven and a bowler who can get decent runs at eight.

    Therefore Harmison's future must be in the balance. He has to bowl well in the first few county games to show he is worth picking - he should certainly no longer be an automatic pick.

  • Noisypants on January 4, 2007, 10:07 GMT

    Give him a break. One bad series and everyone wants to hang him. Typical Australian attitude, always wanting to cut someone down. Harmy will be back - mark my words.

  • Davo on January 4, 2007, 10:05 GMT

    Steve Harmison can still be a great bowler for England, but he needs to have a look at himself. He hasn't looked the same bowler under Flintoffs captaincy as he did under Vaughan. He now bowls as if he blames the current capatain and possibly Fletcher for the lack of results being achieved by him. Every time he bowls he looks like he is not sure what is expected of him and now looks to be under committed to a cause he doesnt care about. As a professional cricketer, he needs to stop acting like a spoilt child and do the bidding of the current coach and captain, regardless of his feelings, before he loses his international career forever.

  • MARK on January 4, 2007, 9:38 GMT

    Australia is playing with 13 players.That is inclding the umpire's.When Australia batting they dont give out, but when England bating they give out without any problem.All the 5 match played in the sameway.Most of the Australian batsmen were out.Australia did not win any match to my view.

  • Hoppers on January 4, 2007, 9:24 GMT

    Harmison's approach to the interviews underlines England's attitude during the series. Mediocrity on the pitch followed by platitudes and clichees off it. The players deserved and should have been openly criticised by their own. Flinthoff especially bears a reponsibility for not ever condemning the team effort in public after the first two tests and putting his captaincy on the line. His interviews only showed that he'd been taught fifteen catch phrases by a media guru and in the same process, had his character deleted. Ultimately, the opinions of all the England team interviewees aptly sum up the result of the series, no matter how much they might protest later. No-one has had the b***s to openly say they are ashamed. This doesn't diminish the achievements of the Australians but after all the hype preceding the series, England went down like a bunch of puppies.

  • Odie on January 4, 2007, 9:09 GMT

    It's not just you, Jez.

    This is why Panesar provides such a breath of fresh air for the English team.

    However, the English seem to think that Panesar has cornered the market on passion for the game when really his intensity is no less than one would expect from ANY world class player.

    The English need to realise that the reason why Australia won this series in such a dominating fashion is because all of the Australian players have passion to win back the ashes which is equal to, if not greater than, that of Panesar.

    Unfortunately, when fellows such as Harmison give interviews or when Pietersen refuses to protect the tail enders we see how selfish and passionless the English lot really can be...despite all of Freddy's protestations to the contrary.

  • Graeme Edgar on January 4, 2007, 9:05 GMT

    In the long line of under achieving England players in the last two decades, Harmy must rate as more lionhearted that Caddick, but i do wonder if he should give up the whole thing. For us to win the series Freddie, KP and Harmy needed to come to the party - Harmy obviously prefers his own company!

  • Si Baker on January 4, 2007, 8:57 GMT

    As usual (& with what has now become tiresome regularity - if you're English) Haigh has nailed it. I never cease to be amazed, when watching the semi-moronic, slack-jawed Harmison being interviewed, at how apparent it is that he considers he's doing England (as a nation - not just a team) the most monumental of favours simply by the act of turning up to play. Perhaps one of your more statistically-minded readers, Gideon (I'm sure there must be a lot of Aussie anoraks with time on their hands who could take a half-hour break from swilling their celebratory Vegemite'n'FourXXXX to undertake this valuable task), would like to run a comparison between Harmison's bowling figures during the calendar year of 2004 - when we decimated an injury-ravaged New Zealand & a terminally hapless West Indies - with the rest of his Test career? The results will bear out, with monochrome clarity, why Harmison is as you describe him: a middling first-change bowler.

    Oh, yes - almost forgot to ask: where are your replacements for Warne, McGrath (forget Clark: he'll be 34 by then; & every batsman worth his salt will have worked him out, anyway) & Gilchrist for 2009? Dan Cullen (first-class bowling average about 912)? Shaun 'Sicknote' Tait? Brad Haddin? Enjoy it while it lasts, you smug Aussie bastards: the great whirligig of cricket history is about to turn widdershins against you.

  • Matt on January 4, 2007, 8:53 GMT

    Harmison should have been sent home after the second test based on his body language alone. With England needing something special to stop the Australian win from happening, Flintoff looked towards Harmison and was greeted with a shrug and a dismissive hand wave. "Nah, I don't want to bowl". Brett Lee can be similarily wayward in his bowling yet he always looks like he is giving 100% with the ball and in the field. The same cannot be said of Harmison.

  • Mark Wiggins on January 4, 2007, 8:52 GMT

    Bob Willis must surely cringe at such comments. Willis may well have had half of Harmison's ability but his fighting spirit was never in doubt. Can you ingrain the fierce competitive streak of a Willis in a Harmison? A bit late in the day for that.

  • Gazza on January 4, 2007, 8:42 GMT

    Im an Aussie but fair dinks leave the bloke alone....hes an exeptionly talented cricketer, who no doubt tries as hard as the next man but just like some of the other exeptionally talented cricketers, he suffers being stereotyped as someone who doesnt have a go every time he fails...players like Mark Waugh and Damien Martyn come to mind...Leave thew bloke alone, apart from anything else management let him down..notice that by test 4 n 5 hes the most dangerous bowler England have? If they cod have skipped himthe champions trophy n got him bowling long spells bak home n prepped him properly..he cod have been the Harmy he can be...get off his back

  • Praks on January 4, 2007, 8:29 GMT

    Well, India have a couple of Steve Harmison types up their ranks as well - Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan.

  • Kylo on January 4, 2007, 8:18 GMT

    Harmison's retirement from ODIs was simply a case of jumping before he was pushed.Should he continue at this rate at test level,we might just see him "retire" from test cricket,so as to focus on his county career and perhaps set new sights on obtaining a first class hundred.

    If the rest of the English team had half as much passion and heart as Monty,they would almost definately not be looking at a 5-0 whitewash in this year's Ashes.

    Harmison's attitude and performance (or lack thereof) has become contagious as the series continued...and changes need to be made.

  • Sean on January 4, 2007, 8:16 GMT

    The type of player we're talking about here is the typical county "Professional" that were so prominent in the English teams of the 80's and 90's. Homesick, tired, sore, bored, need to put my feet up and wait to be told what to do next. Professional?? Yeah, right. Professional....what?

  • growltiger on January 4, 2007, 8:10 GMT

    If it were anyone but Harmison, the interview would have been surprising. In fact, merely depressing. But he is a remarkable person, to judge by his interview and his history. He seems to go through life in a state of quite exceptional lack of self-perception. This obviously applies to his bowling, where he seems to have an unusual difficulty in remembering the feel and shape of his action (so practice outside sustained match play is no use to him, as his brain and body do not retrieve the desired patterns of movement). And it applies in the sphere of planning and motivation as well. "At the end of the day" if you drift through challenges, you get depressing results, but they are somehow seen to be just as valuable as good results achieved with the same amount of work. What is missing from this world-picture is meaning and purpose. Yet this is the man who was so nervous in Brisbane that he bowled the first ball of the series to 2nd slip. Perhaps that was the moment of self-honesty when he knew it all wasn't good enough?

  • Stuart on January 4, 2007, 8:08 GMT

    To quote Bill Lawry during commentary (re: Harmison) "He's just a tired old workhorse, looking around for somewhere to die." Scary thing is, I think Bill's right. Jazzy may have it right - downward spiral (although I don't have a scar on my cheek bone to prove otherwise, like Mr. R.T. Ponting). He got two wickets in the first innings - Matthew Hayden was saving him from disgrace by hitting the ball before it got to second slip, and Michael Clarke with a pretty good ball. Shame the England attack can't put it together for more than 15 minutes at a time. Maybe Duncan should invest more time with Jimmy Anderson & Sajid Mahmood [?]- and wait for Simon Jones - by far the best England bowler. Wish he had toured, so we could judge how well he would bowl in Australian conditions!

  • Jawad on January 4, 2007, 8:01 GMT

    Height does not matter. Waqar was not a strapping tall guy but he made the ball talk.You have to have common sense which Harmison lacks at some instances. I think John Lewis should play since he is a smart bowler who normally bowls the right line & length

  • Wal Grant on January 4, 2007, 7:53 GMT

    Warne kindly pointed out to Fletcher his selection errors going for Flintoff, Jones and Giles. By the end of the third test the damage had been done and no one was going to stop the Ozzies on a roll. If only Fletcher had heeded his and every Englishman's advice (apart from Agnew) to go for Read and Panesar at the start, and bowl Hoggard the first over of the first test. England have made poor judgement calls, never really bonded as a team and are not worth their gongs - no pride. Usual story, look at the footballers and rugby players - all over paid, under acheivers. Its not Harmison's fault, its the managements' poor planning and execution since the Oval 2005. Can we appoint Warne as the next England team Manager?

  • muth_baaj on January 4, 2007, 7:52 GMT

    You are being too harsh, woever you are!! Harmy is a world class performer, and one bad series doesnot a failure make

  • SAZ on January 4, 2007, 7:47 GMT

    Well Pakistan has its own version of Harmison - Mr. Sami THE PACER. He will go for tons of runs but when he will beat the bat once, he'll act as if thats his 300th test scalp

  • SK on January 4, 2007, 7:45 GMT

    Harmison was and is an overrated bowler who had one great series.

  • Justin on January 4, 2007, 7:11 GMT

    'Didn't know waiting for someone to *tell him*'? Yeah, please, bring on 2009. If that's the kind of 'fire' Australia can expect.

  • Shawry on January 4, 2007, 6:58 GMT

    Jez,

    You are right, and further you could substitute the name Harmison in your comment with that of Pieterson. Proven match winner who simply fails to win you matches. Lives and dies by the sword no matter where he bats, which is ok if you can adjust when your country needs more from you. Harmison, on the other hand, seems to have found his sword missing from the scabbard completely.

  • Jag on January 4, 2007, 6:46 GMT

    i hope flintoff gets fried in his last press conference here. he deserves to be embarrased until he admits his team had little heart or prep.

  • Jez on January 4, 2007, 4:46 GMT

    Players like Harmison are always a bit of conundrum. You can't leave them out because they've undoubtably got the talent to win you matches. You can't give them free reign because they aren't winning you enough matches, and in between you see some really poor performances.

    Is it just me or does England seem to produce a fair few more of these types than other nations, save Pakistan?

  • Andrew on January 4, 2007, 4:16 GMT

    I disagree - it's actually very common for people Harmison's height to be called Shorty!

  • JAZZY on January 4, 2007, 3:06 GMT

    All those comments about Harmy being the best bowler in the world. That was 2-3 years ago an he is now in a downward spiral. It was good news when he retired from ODIs now he should do the same for tests, his poor performance cannot always be blamed on homesickness. BE A MAN HARMY RETIRE FROM CRICKET 4 GUD AND GIVE SOMEONE A CHANCE WHO WILL APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY.

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  • JAZZY on January 4, 2007, 3:06 GMT

    All those comments about Harmy being the best bowler in the world. That was 2-3 years ago an he is now in a downward spiral. It was good news when he retired from ODIs now he should do the same for tests, his poor performance cannot always be blamed on homesickness. BE A MAN HARMY RETIRE FROM CRICKET 4 GUD AND GIVE SOMEONE A CHANCE WHO WILL APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY.

  • Andrew on January 4, 2007, 4:16 GMT

    I disagree - it's actually very common for people Harmison's height to be called Shorty!

  • Jez on January 4, 2007, 4:46 GMT

    Players like Harmison are always a bit of conundrum. You can't leave them out because they've undoubtably got the talent to win you matches. You can't give them free reign because they aren't winning you enough matches, and in between you see some really poor performances.

    Is it just me or does England seem to produce a fair few more of these types than other nations, save Pakistan?

  • Jag on January 4, 2007, 6:46 GMT

    i hope flintoff gets fried in his last press conference here. he deserves to be embarrased until he admits his team had little heart or prep.

  • Shawry on January 4, 2007, 6:58 GMT

    Jez,

    You are right, and further you could substitute the name Harmison in your comment with that of Pieterson. Proven match winner who simply fails to win you matches. Lives and dies by the sword no matter where he bats, which is ok if you can adjust when your country needs more from you. Harmison, on the other hand, seems to have found his sword missing from the scabbard completely.

  • Justin on January 4, 2007, 7:11 GMT

    'Didn't know waiting for someone to *tell him*'? Yeah, please, bring on 2009. If that's the kind of 'fire' Australia can expect.

  • SK on January 4, 2007, 7:45 GMT

    Harmison was and is an overrated bowler who had one great series.

  • SAZ on January 4, 2007, 7:47 GMT

    Well Pakistan has its own version of Harmison - Mr. Sami THE PACER. He will go for tons of runs but when he will beat the bat once, he'll act as if thats his 300th test scalp

  • muth_baaj on January 4, 2007, 7:52 GMT

    You are being too harsh, woever you are!! Harmy is a world class performer, and one bad series doesnot a failure make

  • Wal Grant on January 4, 2007, 7:53 GMT

    Warne kindly pointed out to Fletcher his selection errors going for Flintoff, Jones and Giles. By the end of the third test the damage had been done and no one was going to stop the Ozzies on a roll. If only Fletcher had heeded his and every Englishman's advice (apart from Agnew) to go for Read and Panesar at the start, and bowl Hoggard the first over of the first test. England have made poor judgement calls, never really bonded as a team and are not worth their gongs - no pride. Usual story, look at the footballers and rugby players - all over paid, under acheivers. Its not Harmison's fault, its the managements' poor planning and execution since the Oval 2005. Can we appoint Warne as the next England team Manager?