Harmison would have been crucial - Arthur

Steve Harmison is all smiles after his double strike PA Photos

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur believes England may rue their decision to keep fast bowler Steve Harmison out of the touring party to South Africa this winter. Harmison, 31, who plays for Durham in the county circuit, was overlooked for the Test series beginning at Centurion on December 16, despite playing in the final two Tests of the successful Ashes campaign.

Arthur said Harmison's high action and steepling bounce would have been perfectly suited to the quicker wickets in South Africa. "He was the one England bowler who could rough us up," Arthur told the Daily Mail. "If they're trying to build a team for the next Ashes and Harmison isn't going to be there, I can see why they've done it. But a few of our batters will have seen that tour party and been pretty happy he's not on the plane - especially with our wickets, which will have plenty of pace and bounce. He would have been a very awkward proposition."

South Africa lost their most recent Test series at home, 2-1 to Australia in February, when they failed to handle left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson. Johnson may have struggled to impose himself on the slower wickets of England during the Ashes, but he was Australia's highest wicket-taker in South Africa, picking up 16 at an average of 25.00.

"We saw how dangerous Mitchell Johnson was against us on both Australian and South African wickets, because his stock ball - back of a length - was getting rib high on bouncy tracks and hitting batsmen under the heart," Arthur said. "In England, he wasn't helped by the slow pitches, but Harmison could have done the same thing as Johnson out here."

England's tour of South Africa comprises two Twenty20 internationals, five ODIs and four Tests, with a handful of warm-up games. The tour gets underway on November 6 with England XI taking on the South African Board President's XI.