England v Sri Lanka, Twenty20, Southampton June 15, 2006

Harmison eager for Twenty20 clash

Cricinfo staff

Footie, what's that? Harmison says the World Cup will not be a distraction at the Rose Bowl © Getty Images

Stephen Harmison, the England fast bowler, says he is all geared up for the Twenty20 clash against Sri Lanka at Hampshire's Rose Bowl today. Back from a shin injury that sidelined him for several months, Harmison admitted he was confident that England's recent injury woes had increased the team's selection options.

"The one thing we need is competition...we have always had a good 11 players but then if we have lost two or three players it has weakened the side, but now we have got all bases covered," he told Sporting Life. "I think Duncan has got an A and B team covering nearly one to 11. He has got one-to-11 A side and one-to-10 B side because I don't think you can ever replace Andrew Flintoff, but everybody else he's got cover for which is what we want."

Harmison made his first appearance in England colours since March during a 38-run win over Ireland in Belfast on Tuesday and picked up 3 for 58. Despite conceding eight wides, Harmison said he could be a key factor in the five-match contest beginning on June 17. "I was flying in [against Ireland] and the ball didn't go where I wanted it to go, but I still felt if I bowled quick enough the batsmen would struggle to handle the pace as other international batsmen could," he said. "I'm just looking forward to playing if it's against Sri Lanka, Pakistan or whoever I'm playing against for Durham. I just want to go out there and play a game of cricket. I've spent a bit of time on my backside watching television and shouting at the TV when England were playing Sri Lanka. Now I've got the chance to do what I do best and that's to bowl for England."

Today's Twenty20 fixture has been delayed so fans at the Rose Bowl can watch, on a giant screen, England's second World Cup football match, against Trinidad and Tobago. Harmison hoped that England could repeat last year's Twenty20 triumph over Australia here, a 100-run win that set the tone for the subsequent Ashes series, despite the distraction of the football. "Last year was a bit different because it was against Australia, but it's the same situation because if you go well it takes you into the one-day series," he said. "We'll do our preparation and do what we have to do, but we'll still be supporting England."