Durham v Middlesex, County Championship May 10, 2006

Harmison return delayed

Cricinfo staff

Steve Harmison: all geared up © Getty Images

Steve Harmison's return to action has been delayed after his wife went into labour. He was due to line-up for Durham in their County Championship clash but withdrew at the last minute.

Harmison has not played since the second Test against India at Nagpur after picking up a shin injury, which forced him to fly home. He had been especially keen to get back with an eye on returning to the England squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka at Edgbaston.

"I'm really looking forward to playing,'' Harmison, 27, said after the ECB gave him the all-clear. "The team have put in some great performances so far this season and I can't wait to contribute to what should be a pretty exciting match."

Martyn Moxon, Durham's coach, was excited by the prospect of Harmison's return. "He's been bowling over the last week or so and just building up to playing in a game. The good news is he's had no reaction so far, so he'll definitely play against Middlesex." However, Moxon did not expect Harmison to take part in Durham's Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy one-day match against Lancashire on Sunday and remained uncertain of his chances of making the national side.

"We'll just have to take it day by day," he said. "We've got another four-day game next week, and the second Test is the week after that, so we'll just have to wait and see."

Harmison apart, England take on Sri Lanka in the first Test at Lord's tomorrow without Simon Jones and James Anderson, out with knee and back injuries.