Friday, March 2, 2007

Has Harmison been a bit too cocky? - LeeRoycal

Whilst watching the opening matches of the CB Series from the comfort of his favourite armchair in the family home in Ashington, Steve Harmison must have found a small part of himself feeling pleased. Not pleased that England were losing, he is far too much of a patriot and a decent bloke for that; but that the bowlers his voluntary retirement had ushered into the side were not exactly ripping up trees or more importantly stumps. I doubt he is feeling quite so content now.

Only a fool would suggest that Harmison did not retire from the limited overs game this winter without the thought that his test place was secure. He has been England's main strike bowler for the best part of 5 years and has always looked worthy of that position; until last year that is.

2006 was an awful year for Harmison, he lost his rhythm, his rudder, and finally in the 2007 Ashes came the final humiliation as the responsibility of the new ball was taken away from him. He took this on the chin as a decision for the team, but deep down it must have hurt and angered him. Ambrose, Donald, Walsh, McGrath, Vaas, Gough - great and even just good fast bowlers simply do not lose the new ball. Ever.

The latter part of the CB Series saw a massive improvement in the bowling of England's young pretenders which no doubt caused Harmison to shift in his armchair. Anderson was finally shaping the ball before injury took him out of the reckoning. Liam Plunkett drew praise from the likes of Ian Chappell, Saj Mahmood continued to show the immense promise which we all know he has, and Stuart Broad is currently bowling very well on the A tour.

The one thing all of these young bowlers have shown is a strength of character to keep plugging away and applying themselves to the basics in testing circumstances, something that Harmison has shown very little of for eighteen months. One wide ball at the beginning of a test match was all it took to turn Harmison into a frankly terrible bowler, which is not good enough at even at club level.

If England by some miracle have a good World Cup (or even an average one) and these bowlers show up well, questions may well be asked about just what Harmison brings to the team. A seam up pace bowler is only any good when they are bowling with ferocious pace and consistently into the correct areas. Should Mahmood do this in the Caribbean it will cause Harmison and indeed the selectors to shift even more uncomfortably in their respective thrones.

Harmison is 30 this year, he does not have the time to learn his art again and so needs to find form and attitude again very quickly. For his sake I hope the time spent at home this winter has been more productive than getting overs in against the best batsmen in the world. If not, come the summer he may find himself contemplating another retirement decision.


andrewm said...

No comments for LeeRoycal???

Shame on you all! Especially you, Mouth.

Well, I resisted commenting as the fact is that I really enjoy cricket but don't know enough about it to make truly informed comments. However, an article as well-written as this deserves something, so here goes ....

Harmison - what's that all about, eh?

His head goes down so quickly when things go against him that it amazes me he's lasted so long at the top. It can't be a case of indulging a wayward genius, because he's not really a genius, is he? And anyway does that idea even apply in cricket?

Get shot of him.

And that's your expert opinion for the day.

MotM said...

Long day at work andrewm, so getting round to these posts.

Lee - I'm amazed that the mainstream press appear to have just left Harmy alone - I'm not suggesting that they stake out his house, but I think you're on to something and it's not as though Harmy's convalescing like Tresco. So this well-judged piece is long overdue.

Harmy won't play the ODI stuff and shouldn't be selected to tour, so I wouldn't pick him ahead of the others named. He's been very good at times, occasionally devestating, but often half-hearted. I'm grateful for what he has brought to the revival of the England Test team, but it's time to say farewell.

MotM said...

Andrewm - Your generosity in commenting on all is laudable: you're right to pull me up for not chipping in on this post, but I hope I have earned a reprieve for admonishment!

andrewm said...

Mouth, I have a responsibility to comment - even on things I know nothing about.

Keep working - you could still win.

Tony Ellis said...

Andrew, I think I once explained to you on gu that I don't really know much about sport, though I enjoy commenting on questions where sport meets 'real life'. This is why I haven't responded...

That said, I have to say that I particularly appreciate a piece I can enjoy without any real knowledge of the subject. This definitely comes into that category, leeroycal. After reading it, I felt I wanted to know more about the world of cricket. This puts you right next to Primo Levy, who left me with a desire (short-lived, admittedly) to study the periodic table.

So, I liked the content. Now, if you don't mind a criticism (or even if you do - I think we all need to get over the 'nice piece' stage), a proofreader would have made it even more readable. The 'finally...the final' sentence jars a little. Also, the punctuation needs a little polishing in (I think) two places.

Please forgive the ramblings of a 'language professional'. I enjoyed it and look forward to your next...

levremance said...

Lee - Good topic and article but I wouldn't write Harmy off completely. England's achilles over many years has been lack of depth.

Now in fast bowling you may have it in S Jones fit again, Fred, Hoggy, Ando, Plunkett, maybe Mahmood, and Harmy. Harmy needs to know however that he has to perform or he won't get a game. Same goes for the batsmen.

mimi said...

I think this should have been up on GU for definite and I'll be very surprised indeed if something along these lines is not written by one of the GU pros come World Cup time. There has been an eerie silence over the enigma that is Harmison since the CB series success.

leeroycal said...

Thanks all for your comments.

Tony, I take no offence at your pointers re grammar etc. By the way, are you the Tomy Ellis that wrote 'Rugby's Great Split'?

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