County experience for Harbhajan June 1, 2005

Harbhajan ready for his stint with Surrey

Cricinfo staff

Harbhajan Singh: all set to gain some county experience © Getty Images
Just four days after the ICC provisionally cleared his bowling action, Harbhajan Singh is all set to make his debut in English county cricket when he turns up for Surrey in their four-day match against Warwickshire at Whitgift School today (June 1). Harbhajan's doosra came in for intense scrutiny after he was reported by Chris Broad, the match referee, during India's series against Pakistan recently. He was subsequently cleared following a report by Marc Portas, an independent biomechanist.

Harbhajan had earlier lashed out at the ICC for the confusion about his bowling action, but he insisted that the chapter was closed, and that he would now concentrate on putting his best foot forward for Surrey. "I'm not upset with anyone. I'm just happy the waiting is over and I can get on with playing cricket," Harbhajan told AFP. "I was always confident that there was nothing wrong with the doosra.

"I gave the test and was cleared. I would like to thank the Indian board for backing me all the way and hopefully this will be sorted out now for the rest of my life. These things don't bother me. The ICC were doing their job and my job is to bowl well for my country and whoever I play for."

Looking ahead to the match against Warwickshire, Harbhajan said: "This is my first game for a while but I'm confident things will go okay. I've always wanted to play county cricket. I've talked to Rahul Dravid, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble and they were totally changed after playing here - you learn a lot playing abroad and hopefully I will be a much better cricketer after my time here."

Playing for Surrey means Harbhajan's home ground will be The Oval, a venue where he has done well in the past. In the only Test he played here, in 2002, Harbhajan took 5 for 115 in England's first innings, but he was even more impressive in his only ODI at the venue, in September last year: even as the rest of the Indian bowlers were disappearing to all parts of the ground - India conceded 307 in 50 overs - Harbhajan bowled splendidly to return figures of 2 for 14 off 10 overs. "I love bowling at The Oval I've done well here in the past and I'm keeping my fingers crossed I will do that with Surrey."

Steve Rixon, Surrey's coach, expressed the hope that Harbhajan would play a major role in the county's quest for a Championship title. "There're no qualms that we can win the Championship. Harbhajan will help us finish tight situations and tidy tails up. We're playing well and heading in the right direction. Harbhajan will make a major contribution to our success in the future."