Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: Harmison Blasts Skipper's Critics; EXCLUSIVE

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: Harmison Blasts Skipper's Critics; EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

STEVE Harmison has rounded on England captain Paul Collingwood's critics as he insisted England's one-day series win in Sri Lanka had been soured by those who began it calling for his Durham team-mate to be sacked.

Harmison, who could head to South Africa to play Province cricket ahead of England's Test Series in Sri Lanka next month to gain match practice, has retired from one-day international cricket, but he is furious at the whispering campaign which has threatened to undermine his county colleague.

England won a one-day series in Sri Lanka for the first time this week with one game to spare, but Collingwood began the trip with some people - including former England fast bowler Darren Gough - calling for Kevin Pietersen to replace him as team skipper for limited overs.

"I just cannot understand it and it has really wound me up," said Harmison, who has begun bowling in the nets again following the back injury which forced him to miss the last two months of the domestic season. "Paul should not have had to deal with this while he is trying to play a series. They were calling for a new England captain all year, now they've got one they want to change things again.

"We'd just won a series against India at home under Paul, but he went to Sri Lanka under pressure which was just stupid. I'm delighted his has rammed their words down their throats. I like Darren Gough, but what has it got to do with him? I hate it when I see people who have played the game mouthing off.

"Why is he saying that Paul should be replaced? I know he's Kevin Pietersen's mate, but it was extremely unhelpful what he did. I think he has since said his comments were taken out of context, which may be the case, but there were other people only too willing to start a campaign against Paul. We need stability, Paul has done a good job so far, so let him get on with it. …

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