Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Aussies Are Wary of Harmison Talents

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Aussies Are Wary of Harmison Talents

Article excerpt

Byline: By Myles Hodgson

Australia have pinpointed fast bowler Steve Harmison as the key factor in England's revival and their improved performances against the world champions in the one-day games this summer.

Until last summer's ICC Champions Trophy semi-final defeat at Edgbaston, Australia had not been beaten by England for over five years and 14 successive one-day matches ( a record which almost matched their dominance of Ashes Test series over the past 20 years.

But, including the inaugural Twenty20 international between the two sides which preceded the NatWest Series, Australia have won only one of the last five encounters between cricket's oldest rivals to lift English hopes of a more competitive Ashes series this summer.

The world champions even failed to complete an emphatic victory in Saturday's NatWest Series final in their trademark ruthless fashion after reducing England to 33 for five with Ashley Giles getting two runs off the last ball to claim a dramatic tie.

At Lord's it was Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones who claimed the plaudits for forging a 116-run sixth-wicket stand to prevent a complete capitulation, but Australia's dressing room believes the catalyst for England's revival is Durham fast bowler Harmison.

"I think Harmy is a class bowler, there's no doubt about that," conceded Australian seamer Glenn McGrath, whose last ball was deflected down to third man to claim the thrilling tie.

"He's one of the main reasons why England have improved over the last 18 months and the reason why they've been so successful. To have a bowler bowl at that pace with that lift and bounce has got to give the rest of the team confidence."

McGrath's view is shared by other leading figures in the game, who on Saturday included Harmison in the Test and one-day 20-man squads for the Rest of the World to take on Australia in Melbourne and Sydney in the super series matches next October.

Those squads are due to be trimmed down to 14 later this year with Harmison likely to feature in both if he continues his current form for the remainder of the summer after finishing as the leading wicket-taker in the triangular tournament with 15 victims. …

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