'I can be England's best 90mph-plus bowler' November 18, 2007

I understand my bowling better, says Harmison

Cricinfo staff

Steve Harmison has put a nightmare year behind him © Getty Images

After a year which included the disastrous Ashes campaign and a hernia operation which kept him out of the series against India, Steve Harmison says he understands his bowling better and is "desperate" to play for England again.

"It has been a nightmare year," he told the Mail on Sunday. "But what I believe I've learned is that I need to stop worrying and start enjoying my cricket again, playing with a smile not a frown."

While he was sidelined due to hernia, Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad and James Anderson all turned in strong performances to stake their claim for fast-bowling slots in the Test side.

"Maybe I've got to accept that with my action and the way I bowl I'm going to have wayward spells, and instead of beating myself up about sending one way down leg side, I should concentrate on where the next one is going."

Harmison, who has been playing for the Highveldt Lions in a bid to get match fit for the Test series against Sri Lanka, gave the example of last week's match against the Cape Cobras to explain his new approach to bowling.

"In the past I would probably have agonised too much over the rubbish, but now I was thinking 'Give me the ball because I'm also bowling some top stuff'. By sticking at it I bowled better as the match went on and ended up with nine wickets and a great deal of confidence."

Harmison said the advice of Allan Donald, who was a bowling consultant with England in the summer, was also extremely helpful.

Harmison, 29, also reiterated his desire to play for England but added, "if I'm supposed to be in the side for line and length consistency I shouldn't be. Let's be honest, I'm not the best 83mph bowler available to England or the best at 85mph. But when things are going right, with my height and bounce, I can be the best 90mph-plus bowler."

He will join his England team-mates in Sri Lanka on Tuesday and the first Test starts in Kandy on December 1.