England v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Chester-le-Street June 3, 2005

Harmison waits for the greater challenges ahead

Harmison: happy with his bowling but waiting for a greater challenge © Getty Images
Steve Harmison demonstrated once and for all that he is a man who likes his home comforts, as Bangladesh were put to the sword on the first day of the second Test at Chester-le-Street. Harmison's haul of 5 for 38 in front of his family and home crowd sent Bangladesh spiralling to 104 all out, and left them facing the very real prospect of a two-day defeat, after Marcus Trescothick had slapped England to an overnight lead of 165.

Harmison's success was a far cry from his travails on England's tour of South Africa this winter, not to mention his first spell at Lord's last week, which by his own admission was "terrible". With the Australians due to arrive in England on Sunday, it was a timely indication of the form that last summer catapulted him to the No. 1 ranking in the world. But, he added, it would not be until he came face-to-face with the Aussies themselves that he would truly hit top form.

"My rhythm's been pretty good and I'm grooving my action nicely, but there's another gear in there," he warned. When asked what it was take to click up that other level, Harmison's answer was unequivocal: "Australia."

"It's as simple as that," he added. "If you're not at the top of your game, they'll punish you. Soon as Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting appear, something in your mind will go there. It's purely a mental thing, and that's nothing against Bangladesh, but you need that extra 2% to switch you on. If they come at me, I'll have something to come back.with.

"At the end of the day, Bangladesh are here and we've got to do a professional job," Harmison added. "Coming back here is always special, and today 10,000 people have gone away happy. The bowlers all got wickets and Trescothick played a great knock."

Nevertheless, Harmison once again gave a glimpse of his anxieties when he admitted that there was something about playing at Lord's - the venue for the first Ashes Test - that unsettled him. "I'm not a big fan of bowling at Lord's," he said. "I'm always getting wickets there but I just don't feel comfortable. Maybe that's just me being too critical of myself."

Harmison aside, the ECB came in for some major criticism when it decided against scheduling an Ashes Test at Headingley, one of England's favoured grounds. On the evidence that Harmison has provided today, both on and off the pitch, it is a double folly.

Dav Whatmore, meanwhile, tried to put a brave face on another dispiriting day for Bangladesh. "I thought there was a greater effort to do the right thing more often," he said. "I thought we showed more discipline, played the ball closer to the body, and were prepared to be on 0 for a number of balls or overs.

"We've got to believe what we're doing is right," he added. "We were expecting today to be tough, so the result did not surprise me. But we've just got to dig deep and play with pride."

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo