Harmison's instant impact puts Durham on top

Durham 356 Nottinghamshire 171
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The Independent Online

For a man regarded as a bit of an enigma, Steve Harmison is clearly quite perceptive when it comes to the thought processes of others, in particular those of the England selectors.

All last week, while declining to join any public debate on his prospects of a recall, the Durham fast bowler was predicting privately England would reject any "knee-jerk reaction", stick with Stuart Broad and pick Graham Onions for one of the spinners in the only change for Lord's. He did not know then about Andrew Flintoff's fitness worry. But once the all-rounder had been given the all-clear, Harmison's own absence from the XI to face Australia will have come as no surprise.

He arrived here just before lunch yesterday and was bowling immediately afterwards. It was clear why. In his current form, the champions were eager to have him back. The pitch here has been slow and tricky, but by no means treacherous. Harmison made it a different proposition.

Matthew Wood and Bilal Shafayat, the Nottinghamshire openers, set their chins defiantly. It took them until the last ball of his fourth over to score a run against him, a leg glance from Wood, but the aim at first was survival. The fourth ball of his sixth over throttled that ambition. Wood, on his toes, fended to Mark Stoneman at forward short leg.

Harmison's first eight overs conceded only Wood's single yet claimed only one wicket. His second spell became largely a battle with Chris Read, the gutsy Nottinghamshire captain, which Harmison lost, going for 44 this time as Read five times hit him to the leg-side boundary, mostly with pulls and hooks.

Yet Nottinghamshire were disappointing. Loose strokes did for Mark Wagh, Samit Patel and David Hussey and when Shafayat was trapped in front, they were 54 for 5. Read and Ali Brown fought back, adding 81 in 18 overs, but they were undone in turn by Ian Blackwell's left-arm spin.

Three more wickets in the morning for Ryan Sidebottom, giving him 4 for 65, had not restricted Durham too severely and as Nottinghamshire lurched to 171 all out, their 356 looked a good effort and Will Smith enforced the follow-on.