Clarke - Harmison, 2004

England Players in 2003 - part 2 of 5

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Rikki Clarke (Surrey)
Clarke's heady rise from the fringes of Surrey's First XI to the England oneday team and ultimately the Test side was typical of the new English fashion for fast-tracking. At the age of 21 and with just 11 Championship games on his CV, he was picked against Pakistan and duly took a wicket with his first ball. The delivery, however, was a long-hop, and the feeling lingered that his bowling was more rickety fourth-change than genuine all-rounder - though he had some interesting changes of pace and in Sri Lanka got significantly quicker. But his batting was a different matter - a half-century in his second Test at Chittagong was full of maturity - and his fielding at backward point superb.
2003: 2 Tests: 96 runs @ 32.00; 4 wickets @ 15.00.
11 ODI: 66 runs @ 13.20; 7 wickets @ 31.42.

Paul Collingwood (Durham)
For someone who missed almost all of the English summer with a dislocated shoulder, the rest of Collingwood's year could scarcely have gone any better. He was one of the few stars of England's World Cup campaign, and come the winter was a senior player in the one-day side, having been given the crucial position of No. 4 - the finisher's natural habitat. His status as teacher's pet was such that he was awarded a 12-month central contract before his first Test cap. He showed why with two gutsy performances against Muralitharan in Sri Lanka. With his superb fielding under the helmet, the conviction that he was made of the right stuff was growing.
2003: 2 Tests: 89 runs @ 22.25; no wickets for 37.
15 ODI: 411 runs @ 45.66; 3 wickets @ 24.00.

John Crawley (Hampshire)
Crawley was dumped after the Ashes tour despite averaging 47.10 in the eight Tests since his recall the previous summer. But his contribution to England's victory at Sydney - a painstaking unbeaten 35 off 142 balls in the first innings - summed up his problem: there was a hare in there somewhere, as county bowlers would confirm, but at Test level the angstridden tortoise won out.
2003: 1 Test: 43 runs @ 43.00.

Richard Dawson (Yorkshire)
Combative at county level, off-spinner Dawson was eaten alive in the big, bad, real world of Australia. Having started that series with purpose and gumption, he looked tired and out of his depth by the end - on a Sydney pitch usually tailor-made for spinners he took just one for 113, and his main contribution was to bowl the final over of the second day, when Steve Waugh completed his unforgettable hundred. By the end of the summer, Dawson was struggling to make the Yorkshire team. A bowling arm that went beyond perpendicular, making his head fall away, seemed to be creating technical problems all round.
2003: 1 Test: 14 runs @ 7.00; 1 wicket @ 113.00

Ashley Giles (Warwickshire)
Giles was called many things in 2003: the King of Spain (there was a rogue "A" on some county mugs), a wheelie-bin, useless, and finally heroic, after his batting saved the First Test in Sri Lanka. Giles got his first Test fifties against Zimbabwe, but in his day job he laboured badly. He used the Bangladesh tour to remodel his action, trying to get closer to the stumps with a straighter approach and, after Chittagong, he had taken just ten wickets in eight Tests. Then, in Sri Lanka, he took 16 in the next two; his series tally of 18 was double England's next best, his year's tally second only to Harmison and, whether people liked it or not, Giles ended 2003 once again England's undisputed No. 1 spinner. It may be that his new action was most effective not in improving Giles's bowling, but in improving his own belief in it.
2003: 11 Tests: 317 runs @ 22.64; 28 wickets @ 43.57.
13 ODI: 64 runs @ 16.00; 9 wickets @ 40.00.

Darren Gough (Yorkshire)
After a winter's recuperation, Gough was back to his old, ebullient self in the one-day game: grinning, experimenting, grabbing wickets - and doing it all at less than four an over. His performance in the final of the NatWest Series was one of his very best. But his return to the Test side, after two years of injury and self-imposed exile, was a disaster. Gough was made to look pedestrian by Graeme Smith, took a solitary wicket in two games, and duly announced his retirement at Test level. He was, however, still available for one-day cricket and was shocked by his winter omission. The selectors assured him that his career was not necessarily over, but the boyish grin was replaced by the scowl of a fading veteran. Maybe his move to Essex for 2004 will be rejuvenating.
2003: 2 Tests: 49 runs @ 16.33; 1 wicket @ 215.00.
10 ODI: 14 runs, not out; 14 wickets @ 22.42.

Steve Harmison (Durham)
England's leading Test wicket-taker of 2003 had an enigmatic year. When he was good, he was very good, but searing spells were often sandwiched by three or four anodyne ones. For someone rumoured to be resistant to advice, however, Harmison seemed very responsive to the kick up the backside: after being dropped for the Fourth Test against South Africa at Headingley, he stormed back at The Oval with the most significant spell of his life. And then, far more paradoxically, a man labelled as both lazy and a bad traveller saved England from disaster by taking nine wickets in extreme conditions in Dhaka. Then, just as he was starting to seem indispensable, he got injured again. Harmison began the year modestly, as a non-playing member of the World Cup squad and a first-change who could not consistently deploy all the tools at his disposal, although he did add a spectacular final flourish to the inaugural Test on his home ground in Durham. But, with an average of 13 against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and 43 against the rest, he finished 2003 with plenty to prove.
2003: 8 Tests: 64 runs @ 8.00; 31 wickets @ 24.25.
4 ODI: 7 runs @ 7.00; 1 wicket @ 162.00.

© John Wisden & Co