Harmison makes amends for bad times

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The Independent Online

Is it the bad times that make his good days so rewarding, or the good times that make the bad days so frustrating? It seems as though Stephen Harmison will confound captains and coaches until the day he retires.

When he is at his best, as he was on the opening day of the third Ashes Test, he is a pig of a bowler to face. The pace. The bounce. The hostility. Ouch. The pain does not bear thinking about. But when the radar goes haywire he can be a liability. When can you bowl him? What field can you set?

Harmison knew that he owed his team a big performance after a dreadful first day in Brisbane. He was embarrassed by what took place. No high-quality bowler is supposed to get it so wrong on a stage of this magnitude.

Deep down he probably knew that he had not trained hard enough prior to the tour but, to his credit, he has worked his socks off ever since. And the effort and time were rewarded yesterday when he showed Australia that he meant business. Thigh guards were rapped, bat handles were jarred. Nobody was hit in the head, but it is only a matter of time.

Monty Panesar will grab the headlines but it was Harmison who made the greatest impression. It is he whom the Australian batsmen worry about when they retire to bed. In seven overs, he made Australia sit up and think. Ricky Ponting was trapped in front and just nine runs were conceded.

Michael Clarke was caught and bowled while Stuart Clark and Glenn McGrath were dealt with ruthlessly. So is it all sorted now? Has the puzzle been solved? Don't be silly. He will have little idea of how he will bowl in Australia's second innings. It's all part of the fun.