Harmison still in the hunt
Durham 356 Notts 79-9 & 171
Saturday 18 July 2009
Steve Harmison says that part of his rationale for not talking about his chances of a Test recall is to avoid creating extra pressure for those already in the team.
If you can forget his contract with a Sunday newspaper, which somewhat inhibits his freedom of speech, this might be a noble gesture. The trouble is that he is taking so many wickets his England colleagues already have cricked necks from looking over their shoulders, despite his monastic silence.
His 6 for 20 yesterday – provisionally his best figures for Durham – took his total in six first-class matches to 40 wickets, which in statistical terms is a run of form unprecedented in his career. Nottinghamshire's batting was woeful but it would not be the first time the circuit's most feared fast bowler has persuaded an opponent that throwing the bat and hoping for the best was a good tactic.
Chris Read won a skirmish with him on Thursday afternoon but, as Nottinghamshire followed on yesterday, no one even hinted at getting the upper hand. But for the weather, which limited play, after a full morning, to just 21 balls between prolonged spells of rain, the home side would have already licked their wounds after an innings defeat and Durham would be 36 points clear at the top of the table.
Instead, Nottinghamshire come back today nine wickets down and 106 behind. Harmison is half-way through his 13th over. One ball might be enough. Mark Davies struck the first two blows as Matthew Wood was caught behind off an inside edge and Mark Wagh wafted to point. Callum Thorp had David Hussey leg before, but otherwise it was all Harmison, who seemed to make the ball lock on to the batsman like a heat-seeking missile. Bilal Shafayat, caught off the glove as he tried to sway out of danger, looked mortified, although he may have been more unhappy about the gloomy light than the authenticity of the dismissal.
Samit Patel fell to much the same wasteful stroke as Wagh, although neither should be as embarrassed as Andre Adams ought to be after stepping away and carving straight to point. Brown, making a mess of a hook, scooped an easy catch to fine leg. Read adopted Thursday's tactic but departed quickly this time, feathering a catch behind. At least Ryan Sidebottom, taken at forward short leg, could blame a good catch.
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
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