County Championship round-up: Harmison flops as Bell knocks on England door

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The Independent Online

Ian Bell and Steve Harmison, two players fighting for an England future, experienced contrasting fortunes yesterday. While Bell moved smoothly to 172 for Warwickshire against Somerset at Taunton, Harmison failed to take a single wicket as Durham University were dismissed for 154.

Both men found themselves surplus to requirements by the end of the recent Test series in the Caribbean and will await Monday's squad announcement with nervous interest. England are expected to name a party of 15 or 16 for the summer's first Test against West Indies – and Bell, at least, has made a decent case for inclusion.

Having set out his stall on the opening day of the championship season by reaching 84, Bell was soon celebrating the 24th first-class century of his career yesterday. And he looked likely to turn it into a double until being caught behind off the bowling of Ben Phillips. By then, Bell had batted for more than seven hours and hit 25 of the 272 balls he faced to the boundary.

While Warwickshire, for whom Jim Troughton scored 77 and Tim Ambrose contributed 57, were climbing to 500 in the West Country, runs proved harder to come by in Durham. But that did not help Harmison.

Opening the bowling for the county champions against the University at the Racecourse ground, Harmison finished with unflattering figures of 11-3-40-0 as ex-international paceman Liam Plunkett and spinner Gareth Breese took seven wickets between them. Not that a strong Durham side had it all their own way by any means.

The county were 77 for seven, 19-year-old Welsh fast bowler John Glover having taken the first five wickets to fall – including that of Harmison Snr's brother, Ben, for a sixth-ball duck. Durham rallied to 172 for nine.