Shamik Das

Thursday, February 26, 2009

For Harm the bell tolls...

Past it? Steve Harmison looks glum after being dropped

IS this the end for Stephen James Harmison?

The man who ripped apart the Aussies in 2005, and was at his fiery, fast bowling best a year earlier to decimate the West Indies with career best figures of 7-12 that catapaulted him to the top of the world rankings seems to have disappeared.

I can't remember the last time he bowled well, the last time he really put the wind up the opposition as he did that glorious summer of 2005, with many a yorker-bouncer-yorker-OUT!

But the truth is, that 2004 tour apart, he's rarely done it away from home, his most spectacular cock-up coming in the 2006/7 Ashes series when he got the ball rolling with a wide to second slip, setting the tone for England's disastrous 5-0 defeat.

In one-dayers, he's been even worse of late, quitting ODIs after getting smashed for 97 runs from his ten over spell against Sri Lanka at Headingley in 2006 as Sanath Jayasuriya and co carted him for 12 fours and two sixes to wrap up the series 5-0, though he did make a one-day comeback last autumn, just in time for the infamous Stanford match... sheer coincidence I'm sure, but Karmatic nonetheless!

Ahtowldya! My prediction in Monday's Daily Telegraph; click to enlarge

So to the match, with England naming no survivors from the last Caribbean tour, and three changes from the third Test, as so nearly predicted by moi in response to Geoffrey Boycott's column in Monday's Telegraph.

In come Ravi Bopara, Tim Ambrose and Ryan Sidebottom for the injured Andrew Flintoff, the absent Matt Prior and Harmison respectively, while the West Indies, unsurprisingly, are unchanged from their great escape in Antigua.

England are in desperate need of a win to head off the prospect of a ninth series without victory in their past 13 Test series dating back to the 2005 Ashes; indeed, since the epic Trent Bridge win that summer, they've won only 12 of their subsequent 44 Tests - a ratio of 1:3.6 - their worst run of form over a comparable cycle for some time.

It promises to be quite a week on the global stage, with all eight leading nations in Twenty20, one day international and Test match action. In addition to the Wisden Trophy New Zealand play host to India, Pakistan entertain Sri Lanka and the top two go head to head as Australia visit South Africa.

Now, I wonder whether Mr Stanford will be watching from his jail cell/bolt hole/ranch, bedecked in the finest cowboy boots, chaps and broad-rimmed stetson stolen money can buy?!

BBC Sport: Live video scorecard of the fourth WI v Eng Test
Cricinfo: Live text commentary of the first SA v Aus Test


Blogger stonysleep said...

Don't write Harmison off just yet - he'll be back when we decide to play the next test match at Old Trafford, though he may have a part to play this summer. It's not good though and appears that the strauss management is going to be a horses for courses selection panel

27 February, 2009 00:06


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