England's touring squad reached full strength this morning following Stephen Harmison's arrival from South Africa but the fast bowler's success there is unlikely to guarantee him a place in the side for the first Test which begins at Kandy on 1 December.
Harmison had been asked to prove his fitness and form before joining Michael Vaughan's side and he has achieved this after taking 13 wickets in two first-class matches for the Highveld Lions. He will take no part in the opening day of England's first warm-up game of the tour, which began earlier today, but he is expected to feature tomorrow or on Thursday. Harmison's wickets suggest that he is bowling well but there have been mixed reports coming out of South Africa and he will need to impress during the next week if he is to play in Kandy.
"The decision to bring Stephen here took quite a lot of thought," said Peter Moores, the England coach. "Steve has missed a lot of cricket and we wanted to know exactly where he was, physically and bowling-wise. We wanted to leave it as long as we possibly could. We spoke to him on Sunday and he admitted that he bowled better in the second innings than the first, so he thinks he is getting there. But, by his own admission, he would not say that he is totally right.
"We stressed to Stephen when he went to South Africa that he had to be in good enough form to play for England as well as being fit. He was on the field for 190 overs in the last game and I think he is far enough down the line. He has proved his fitness, so it is right to bring him over here.
"Everybody knows how Stephen can bowl, but he needs to consistently get the ball in the right area. At the moment I am going off reports from other people, but I want to see for myself."
James Anderson was a happier bunny at practice yesterday, taking a full part following concerns over his fitness the previous day.
"James felt a twinge in his back and was unable to follow through as he would have liked," Moores said. "But it was better today and the medical team think he can bowl through it. He is expected to take a part in this game."Reuse content