Stephen Harmison unworried by Pakistan lapse
by AFP

Ground:Kennington Oval, Kennington
Scorecard:England v Pakistan
Player:SJ Harmison
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 20th August 2006


Stephen Harmison insisted he has no major concerns about his form heading into the Ashes series against Australia despite a faltering display in the fourth and final Test against Pakistan here at The Oval.


England's spearhead fast bowler, who is suffering from a back injury, had a wretched day Friday but recovered Saturday to take four for 125 in 30.5 overs as Pakistan piled up 504 all out.


However, only one of those wickets was a top-order batsman and the Durham quick's display, which featured 22.4 wicketless overs for 98 runs until Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was caught by England skipper Andrew Strauss, added to the impression that he too often takes key wickets only when conditions are ideal and he is in peak form and rhythm.


But Harmison, who had gone 46 overs without a Test wicket since dismissing Mohammad Yousuf for 192 in the first innings of England's 167-run series clinching third Test win at Headingley, was adamant he'd simply had an off-day.


"I just felt a bit better today," Harmison told reporters. "Things just didn't go for me yesterday (Friday).


"I didn't feel right. My body, my rhythm, the way the ball was coming out of may hand it didn't feel right.


"It doesn't frustrate me. It will be (a worry) if somebody stops picking me. At this moment in time I've taken 20 wickets in this series. Is that a worry? I don't think so.


"Everybody can improve. We've had an off Test match, the whole team, but I feel as though I came back well.


"I feel as though I contribute to the team and do a good enough job. Every time I go out to pull that jumper on I feel I'm giving it everything.


"I've taken 20 wickets in three-and-half Test matches. If that's not enough, I've got to go and work a bit harder. At the end of the day, everybody has an off-day."


Harmison admitted he's been less than fully fit.


"There is something in the side/back area which has caused a bit of a concern. It's something new but I'm not going to make excuses."


Another worry for England has been the form of opener Marcus Trescothick.


Before England finished the third day on 78 for one in their second innings, a deficit of 253, the Somerset left-handed batsman was caught behind for six.


It completed a forgettable series for the experienced Trescothick who'd scored just 135 runs in four Tests against Pakistan at an average of under 20.


But Harmison said it would not surprise him if Trescothick found his form during England's Ashes defence in Australia, which gets underway in November.


"Marcus Trescothick's got more than five-and-a-half thousand Test runs. He's played 75 Test matches for England and he is a class performer," said Harmison.


"He's one of the best opening batsmen in world cricket.


"If it had been a young lad, there might have been cause for concern. Marcus Trescothick, no concerns whatsoever. I'm sure he'll bounce back well in Australia."


England who saw Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf score 128, his third century of the series, will resume Sunday with Strauss 37 not out and fellow left-hander Alastair Cook 33 not out.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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