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March 4, 2009
England travelled to Trinidad ahead of the final Test on Friday 1-0 down in the series after the high-scoring draw in Barbados, but Flower made clear there is unlikely to be a swift return for Harmison.
Harmison was dropped for the Test at the Kensington Oval after two lacklustre performances in the series, and question marks are now being raised as to whether to can rekindle the required pace and hostility to lead the attack.
"At the moment he hasn't, otherwise he would have done it," Flower said. "But I don't think by any means that Steve's finished. He's still got a hell of a lot to offer. Fast bowling is long, hard work and at the age of 30 it is only going to get harder work, so it is up to Steve really. He's got to put in the performances which make the selectors pick him time and time again. I've only known Steve a little while and we are still getting to know each other better now."
In his Sunday newspaper column, Harmison said he would seek talks with captain Andrew Strauss to learn what he has to do to win back his place. Flower, though, added that it was down to him to show that he still wants to put in the hard work required to succeed at the top level.
"If hard work is just a base that you start with, that's what he's doing at the moment, but for you to be a successful international cricketer you have to be very hungry," Flower said. "Only he knows how hungry he is to carry on the hard yakka of a fast bowler's life. I think he still wants to do it: he's proud of his career and proud to play for England."
England's attack desperately lacks a cutting edge with Harmison a shadow of the bowler who blew West Indies away in 2004 and also without the injured Andrew Flintoff. Somehow they have to conjure up 20 wickets at Port of Spain if they are to level the series and retain the Wisden Trophy.
"We hope that the Trinidad pitch does a bit and makes for more interesting cricket, let alone provide the chance for one of the sides to win," Flower said. "Even though the pitches are flat, however, we also have to be looking at that subject of 20 wickets as well."
It seems unlikely that Ryan Sidebottom will retain his place after he struggled in Barbados, claiming 1 for 146 off 35 overs. Sidebottom's selection was a surprise because a few days before the match Flower had spoken about his "chronic" Achilles problem and the ankle was hurting again afterwards. Given all Sidebottom's injury issues in the last six months his long-term future must now be in doubt.
Once certain change for the final Test is the return of Matt Prior behind the stumps after he flew back to the Caribbean following paternity leave. His replacement, Tim Ambrose, hit an unbeaten 76 in the fourth Test and kept tidily, but will now move aside with Prior a contender to bat at No. 6 so England can play five bowlers.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala