Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: Subdued Steve Will Expect to Improve; Harmison's Comeback off to Slow Start at Riverside

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: Subdued Steve Will Expect to Improve; Harmison's Comeback off to Slow Start at Riverside

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

AS comebacks go Steve Harmison's eagerly-awaited return for Durham yesterday was about as spectacular as a party for the Heather Mills Appreciation Society.

Faced with the less-than-daunting threat offered by a bunch of students from Durham University, Harmison failed to take a single wicket in his 10 overs and rarely troubled the batsmen, who were unwilling to put the bat anywhere near anything he put outside off-stump.

A notorious slow starter, the fast bowler will not be too upset by the lack of wickets as he always intended to use this largely meaningless contest as a means to get some overs under his belt before Durham launch their Championship campaign against Surrey next week. But he will still be disappointed.

For a bowler who is determined to use his county performances as a springboard to get him back into England's Test side, this was a subdued start and, for those who are determined to keep him out of the international picture, it will be seen as an embarrassing one.

In truth, it is far too early in the season to be drawing any sort of conclusions about what sort of shape Harmison is in, although it is clear he will have to be bowling a lot better than this to be in with any sort of chance of returning to the England side for the three-Test series against New Zealand next month.

Instead, Harmison's performance was completely outshone by that of Neil Killeen, a bowler who is unlikely to play against Surrey, presuming Liam Plunkett recovers from a slight side strain.

Unlike his illustrious team-mate and, to a certain extent, another England hopeful Graham Onions, Killeen - who remains a vital member of Durham's oneday side - worked out that it was better to bowl straight, with the ball pitched up, than try to unsettle outside off-stump.

The scholars must be thoroughly fed up with the sight of the stocky seamer who has become something of a bully in these games - taking wickets, if not dinner money, with ease.

The 33-year-old only took six First-Class wickets last season as he struggled to find a place in the Championship team and all of them came in the University game. …

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