County news July 7, 2012

Yorkshire gamble on Harmison

Yorkshire have gambled on reinvigorating Steve Harmison's ailing career to keep their promotion challenge on track after signing the former England fast bowler on a short-term loan deal from Durham.

Durham, bottom of Division One, have seen fit to offload Harmison shortly before their new Championship captain, Paul Collingwood, leads them into a vital relegation match against Worcestershire at New Road beginning on Tuesday.

Harmison, 33, is seen by Yorkshire as a solution to the loss of the Australian quick bowler Mitchell Starc, who misses Yorkshire's next two championship games because of Australia A commitments, and Ryan Sidebottom who could miss four matches because of a calf injury.

Yorkshire are short of pace-bowling cover after the breakdown of their relationship with Ajmal Shahzad, who they farmed out on loan to Lancashire early in the season, and they turned to Harmison after a search for overseas options came to naught. He is expected to make his debut against Hampshire at West End on Wednesday.

Harmison, who has a Test record of 226 wickets at 31 runs each behind him, but has struggled desperately for form this season. The highest paid player on Durham's staff, he is three years into a four-year contract and played only three championship matches in which he has taken 11 wickets at 38 runs each.

He previously worked at Durham under Yorkshire's director of cricket Martyn Moxon, who remains an admirer. "He still has a great presence on the field," Moxon said.

Harmison said: "It's been a frustrating first half of the season and I don't want to be playing second team cricket. I'm pleased that I can be helpful to Yorkshire at this point, when they are struggling with their senior bowlers, and I'm looking forward to our first game on Wednesday."

He missed Durham's pre-season after spraining his ankle in the indoor school training at the county's indoor school. Even at his peak, he has taken time to get into a good rhythm at the start of a season and this season he has never achieved form.

Since signing a four-year Durham contract at the end of his England career, Harmison has suffered several unfortunate injuries. He chipped a bone in his arm during the opening game, unable to get out of the way of a ball struck by his batting partner Phil Mustard, and missed five weeks. In July last year he trod on a football warming up for a friendly with Sri Lanka A.

Durham's chief executive David Harker said, "We are fortunate to have an especially strong bowling attack, who have been performing well. It's been a frustrating summer for everyone because of the bad weather, not least for Stephen who has been unable to get sufficient overs under his belt in order to compete for a first team place."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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  • Andy on July 7, 2012, 19:01 GMT

    I don't think Yorkshire have anything to lose with this deal - with Sidebottom, Starc and Bresnan unavailable, then the pace attack for the Championship would otherwise be Patterson, Hannon-Dalby and Wardlaw, with Pyrah and McGrath as required.

    Wardlaw still hasn't quite made the progression to this level yet, and so even a wayward Harmison would as expensive as Wardlaw would be, with Harmison adding the sort of experience that was lost with Sidebottom's injury, and allowing Patterson to go back to first change, where he has been very effective this season.

  • Luke on July 7, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    So we get rid of one highly-strung bowler in shazhad and replace him with another. At least in Ajmal he was home-grown. Disappointed with this move. He better not play any limited overs stuff.

  • B on July 7, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    If Harmison remotely had the stomach for battle he'd be worth a gamble by any county. However he doesn't and he isn't...

  • Michael on July 7, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    Well well, that's turn-up for the books. I had Harmison down as Durham through and through. Mind you, he won't have long to travel to reach Headingley or Scarborough; hopefully not even Steve Harmison can get homesick in that distance. With Durham bottom of division 1 and Collingwood just becoming Durham captain, do we read into this that Colly doesn't much rate his old mate any more? Or are they hoping that a stint in division 2 will give Harmison's confidence the filip he needs? It'll be intriguing to see how he does; with Ramprakash, Hick, Cork, Caddick, etc now retired, I guess Harmison now might take on the role of senior ex-underperforming England player whose fortunes England fans like to follow out of a perverse nostalgia for the days when England used regularly to get hammered ...

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