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