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Nigel Gardner at Chesterfield
July 19, 2012
Derbyshire 135 for 7 (Harmison 3-49) trail Yorkshire 219 (Jaques 61) by 84 runs
It is not known if Steve Harmison harbours a secret desire to launch a career as a pop singer but Yorkshire's first-team coach, Jason Gillespie, believes the former England paceman certainly has the X-factor.
That was the reason, according to Gillespie, that Yorkshire took the decision to sign the 33-year-old on a month's loan from Durham and it was presumably based on what he can do with a ball in his hand rather than a microphone.
"We signed Steve for that X-factor and while the balls he got wickets with you wouldn't class as classic deliveries, he got wickets and he's that type of bowler," Gillespie said of Harmison's contribution on day one. "He finds a way to get wickets and he got three for none and really turned the game on its head.
"He just came in and attacked and while he did spray the odd ball, he found ways to get wickets and that's what we signed him for."
With Ryan Sidebottom injured and Mitchell Starc on Australia A duty, Yorkshire turned to Harmison to help them try to regain the Division One place they lost last season.
Gillespie, of course, knows the havoc Harmison is capable of inflicting after the Durham man spearheaded England's attack in 2005 to take the Ashes away from Australia. But seven years on Harmison has slipped out of international contention as well as a struggling Durham side, which cast doubts on Yorkshire's wisdom in taking him to Headingley.
His first outing against Hampshire last week was decidedly rusty and his opening spell in the match with Division Two leaders Derbyshire at Queen's Park had even the most forgiving of Yorkshire folk shaking their heads. In three wild overs, Harmison leaked 27 runs, bowling five wides - one of which careered down the leg-side to the boundary - and two no-balls.
Phil Jaques' decision to take him off could have been viewed as an act of kindness but his move in restoring him to the attack 20 overs later proved to be inspired. In 11 balls, he took three wickets and even if he was assisted by some reckless batting, his jubilation and that of his new team-mates spoke volumes.
"Steve spoke in the dressing room after the day's play," Gillespie said. "It was great to hear him say that, although the ball wasn't coming out as well as he would have liked, what he was most pleased with was that he was continually getting the support from his team-mates who were backing him up and he got a lot of confidence from that.
"He told all the boys in the dressing room that and I thought for a guy who has come to the club on loan with over 200 Test wickets and over 700 first class wickets, to acknowledge that he wasn't at his best and he appreciated all the support of his team-mates, who he is still getting to know, I thought showed the character of the lad and the spirit in our dressing room.
"Steve has had a frustrating season up at Durham, he hasn't got the opportunities he's wanted, the weather has wrecked havoc and Steve is very much a rhythm bowler.
"He likes to bowl lots of overs and he's a 100% trier. The more he bowls, the better he gets but it's been a very stop-start season for bowlers all around the country who have struggled with that. But Steve especially needs that bowling, back to back, day to day, and we felt when we signed him that if we could get some overs under his belt he could possibly play an important role for us and I think yesterday showed the sort of things that can happen."
Further rain in the Chesterfield area meant that Harmison was denied a chance to continue his search for form on Thursday, as a wet outfield caused an abandonment. However, with two days left and both teams chasing promotion, Harmison still could play a key role for Yorkshire.
"Steve was pretty chuffed on Wednesday night," Gillespie said. "I said he's got that X-factor and he finds ways to get wickets, seemingly from situations where you wonder 'where is that wicket coming from' but he just manages to do it and that's one of the main reasons we got him on board.
"We constantly talk with him - good communication is the key - to keep his spirits up, and he loves talking about the game. It's been an absolute pleasure to have him regardless of what happens for the rest of the month. For us, it's been absolutely worthwhile to sign him."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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