England bowler 'rusty' on first-class return November 10, 2007

Harmison feared for his Test readiness

Cricinfo staff

Steve Harmison: 'I felt I had a huge amount to do before I could consider playing Test cricket in the near future' © Getty Images

Steve Harmison has admitted that he was worried he wasn't Test ready even though he took six wickets for the Lions in South Africa. He said it was only his three wickets in the second innings against the Cobras that made him feel happier and somewhere towards being ready to return to England's attack for the first time since the summer.

'It was like chalk and cheese," he told The Mail on Sunday of the two innings. "Two different bowlers. 'Six for kicks' looks great but it wasn't very good and I felt I had a huge amount to do before I could consider playing Test cricket in the near future.

"My action was all over the oche and that dented my confidence a bit. There was no rhythm or momentum. Not much felt right at all, in fact. Inside I knew that if my bowling didn't improve and fast I'd be struggling and there just might not be enough time to get things right."

Harmison is playing in South Africa in a bid to get match fit ahead of England's Test series in Sri Lanka.

"Don't get me wrong," he said. "I love playing for England and I'm desperate to do so as soon as possible. I'm the one who instigated coming out here in the first place because I wanted to give myself the best chance of being fit and ready.

'But there is no way I would jeopardise England's cause or my reputation by pleading with them to pick me if I'm not anywhere near ready to play Test cricket. My thinking was that if the bowling didn't get better I would tell them I wasn't ready."

However, he was soon boosted by taking 3 for 46 from 16 overs in the second innings - albeit after a wonky start. "When the first over of the second innings took 10 balls, I thought: "Here we go again". But after that things just clicked."

He gave credit to England's bowling coach, Ottis Gibson. "Thanks to the work I had done with Ottis, my wrist position was much better and the ball was coming out straight. After the way I had felt before it was a helluva relief."