Harmison recalled for third Test
Steve Harmison has been recalled by England for the third Test against South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday. In a 13-man squad, England have dropped Darren Pattinson - whose debut in the second Test at Headingley was fraught with controversy - but they retain Paul Collingwood who missed out on the XI at Leeds.
For Harmison, it represents an impressive comeback after he was unceremoniously dumped in the Hamilton Test against New Zealand in the winter. Since then, he has gone back to Durham and bowled with the sort of venom that England have craved from him ever since his sparkling 2004. This season, he has taken 41 wickets at 22.82. With England trailing the Test series 1-0, Harmison's firepower comes at a critical juncture.
"Steve Harmison has been bowling well for Durham this season," Geoff Miller, the England national selector, said, "and his inclusion in the Test squad gives us another option in terms of our bowling attack for the Edgbaston Test."
Miller had hinted at Harmison's recall the previous day, noting that England could do with an extra injection of pace (even Pattinson's county coach, Mick Newell, admitted he had been down on speed at Headingley).
The fact that Matthew Hoggard has been overlooked once again cannot be ignored. Harmison has worked his way ahead of him in the pecking order and, barring injuries to the others, his international future looks bleaker than ever.
England also welcome back Ryan Sidebottom, their most potent weapon since his revelatory international comeback last season, who missed the second Test owing to his back injury.
"Ryan Sidebottom has been progressing well with his back injury over the past week and we're confident he'll be fit for selection but obviously he'll be monitored closely in the lead up to next Wednesday.
"Paul Collingwood was unlucky to miss out on a place in the team for the second Test match but this decision was based on a number of factors. He has shown what a true professional he is by returning to Durham over the past week and playing well for his county."
Victory for South Africa would give them an unassailable 2-0 series-lead.
England squad Michael Vaughan (capt), Tim Ambrose (wk), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Ryan Sidebottom, Andrew Strauss.