Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time Now Running out for Harmison

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time Now Running out for Harmison

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

STEPHEN Harmison is facing a race to be ready for the start of the cricket season.

The fast bowler will miss this month's trip to South Africa, and almost certainly the official start of Durham's pre-season after spraining his ankle.

The freak injury, suffered training at the county's indoor school, is expected to keep Harmison out until late March.

Durham do not play their first competitive game of 2012 until April 12, but Harmison historically needs to get into a good rhythm to perform at his best. Time is running out to do that before the County Championship visit of Nottinghamshire.

The Riversiders return from their preseason trip to Dubai to play a two-day friendly against Yorkshire at Chester-le-Street. They then play a three-day friendly at home to Durham University, starting on Good Friday, April 6. The second team do not begin their 2012 programme until April 11, when they face Yorkshire in a four-day friendly.

Since signing a four-year contract at the end of his international career, Harmison (pictured below) has been bedevilled by often unusual injury problems.

He chipped a bone in his arm during last season's opening game, unable to get out of the way of a ball struck by batting partner Phil Mustard, and missed the next five weeks. In July he trod on a football warming up for a friendly with Sri Lanka A which would have provided much-needed match practice for a player left out of the county's Twenty20 programme.

It was expected to be a shortterm problem, but ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.

The Ashington-born paceman played six County Championship matches last season, plus a second team game in the first of his comebacks. He did not feature in any one-day cricket. He took 17 Championship wickets at 26.70, but in such a disrupted season was unsurprisingly seldom at his best, failing to take a fivewicket haul. …

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