Durham v Hampshire, Friends Provident Final, Lord's August 18, 2007

Harmison pulls out of Lord's final

Cricinfo staff

Steve Harmison: out of the final © Getty Images
Steve Harmison will not play for Durham against Hampshire in the Friends Provident final at Lord's on Saturday, after suffering from discomfort in his back following a spell of bowling in the current County Championship fixture against Surrey.

"Initial scans have suggested that there appears to be a muscle tear with an associated haematoma," said the ECB in a statement. "This will be re-evaluated by the ECB medical team in order to assess the full extent of the injury.

"Following discussions between Durham and ECB medical staff, it has been decided that Stephen will not play in the Friends Provident Trophy final at Lord's this Saturday."

Harmison himself said he was "heartbroken" at the news. "The severity of the injury has surprised everyone and the timing couldn't be worse," he said. "Having played for Durham through the lean years I was looking forward to making my mark in Durham's firs- ever final and I'm heartbroken I won't be playing.

"However, we have a strong squad and whoever steps up to take my place will be a quality player. It doesn't matter which 11 players we put out at Lord's. We have a good chance of bringing the trophy back to Durham and I'll be in London with the team to give them any help they need.

"I'm hoping my season's not finished, but if it is I'll be fighting to get fit for [England's tour of] Sri Lanka," Harmison told the Journal in Newcastle. "This is perhaps the lowest I've felt in my career. I feel as though I've been hit by a truck physically and emotionally. When the specialist saw the scans he was shocked, he said it looked as though I'd been in a car crash. I don't think anyone had any idea how serious the injury was."

Durham head coach Geoff Cook added: "Everyone is devastated for Stephen. He has worked so hard to come back from his operation and was looking forward to playing at Lord's. This is a cruel blow for him but when one door closes another one opens and this is a real opportunity for another one of our talented squad."

Harmison missed England's recent Test series against India after undergoing a hernia operation, but he seemed to be coming back to fitness when he had a gentle workout against Sri Lanka A last week, followed by a full part in Durham's three-wicket Pro40 defeat against Kent at Canterbury on Sunday.

However, the after-effects of that match appear to have caught up with him. The Durham squad returned home from Kent at 2.30am, and then began their Championship match a mere eight-and-a-half hours later. Harmison bowled seven overs on the first evening, taking one wicket, but managed just two more on Tuesday morning.

The ECB added that it was not possible at present to determine the length of Harmison's recovery time. A further statement will be made in due course.