Captain determined to entice Harmison back to one-day fold
Tuesday 12 August 2008
Kevin Pietersen performed some minor miracles during his first Test as England captain, but if he can achieve his next aim he really can be said to have the golden touch.
Pietersen, who won his first match in charge of England, having also become only the fourth captain to score a hundred in his maiden match as leader, now intends to persuade the England paceman Stephen Harmison to come out of one-day international retirement.
The 29-year-old Harmison quit 18 months ago in Australia, and recently reiterated his determination never to return to the short form of the game, but Pietersen is on a roll.
And after the six-wicket victory he said: "I [talked about him returning to one-day cricket] over lunch today. He said he would see but the travel has always been the problem for Steve, being away from his family.
"We've seen this week how important he's going to be for us. He's a huge player. I respect the man for the decisions he makes, but it would be lovely to have him coming in first change with the white ball. But you don't always get what you want."
Pietersen certainly feels he has a special relationship with Harmison, and he added: "There has to be special mention for big Steve. He came back in after a time out and he was magnificent.
"When I told Steve he was playing, I told him I wanted him to bowl fast, to bowl straight and to be the old Steve Harmison. I gave him the extra responsibility of getting runs at nine. He said he would do his best and his best was good enough for me this week.
"I am going to be looking after Steve as much as I can but I will also be making sure I get the best out of him. I think I know the sort of ways to do it."
Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, certainly sees the importance of Harmison to England. "He has a good record. When he is bowling well he is certainly an asset to the England attack," Smith said. "If they are going to pick their team when he is playing like this then he has got to play."
Smith then switched his attention to South Africa's Test series in Australia in December, a rubber which pits the top two Test teams against each other. And "doing the impossible" is clearly catching, because Smith was prepared to do the unthinkable and contemplate the possibility of a series triumph Down Under.
"I think the confidence that we have gained and the lessons that we have learned is an important facet for us going to Australia," he said. "If we can round the season off with a win there then it would be a great achievement."
As for this defeat he admitted: "The emotion that we felt after winning at Edgbaston was always going to be difficult to [reproduce] and bring into this game. We were just lacking that oomph I think, that we had in the other games."
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