'I've knuckled down, so now let me play,' pleads Harmison

Stephen Harmison last night pleaded with the England selectors to pick him for tomorrow's crucial third Test against South Africa. When Harmison was dropped by England on their tour of New Zealand many believed he had made his last international appearance, but the débâcle of Headingley and a desperate desire to triumph in a must-win Test have encouraged the selectors to return to their former enforcer in the hope that he can rediscover the form that made him the most feared fast bowler in the world.

"A lot of people thought you'd never see me in an England shirt again, but I was never one of them," said a defiant Harmison. "I'm obviously delighted to have been called up. When I left New Zealand I asked, 'What have I got to do to get back in?' and I think I've answered that question as well as I possibly could have. I've gone away, knuckled down and done it. That is what I wanted to do because I've always wanted to play for England. I've missed the atmosphere. It is great playing for Durham and I love it, but the buzz of the first morning at a Test match is not something you get playing at the Riverside.

"I'm not looking to prove any points, the selectors made a decision and everybody is talking about them. They made a call months ago to leave me and Matthew Hoggard out, and went six games without changing the team. They went six games playing well and at the time it was the right decision. Now they made a choice last week and it didn't work for them, the one in New Zealand did. I've got a chance now to stake my claim and I'm looking forward to it. I've bowled overs and taken wickets, in fact I feel as though I've bowled the most overs in the country, so I'm pleased.

"Now I've got to get in the team and stay in the team. I'm looking forward to having that first ball and getting back out in front of 20,000 people. If I wasn't I wouldn't be here at Edgbaston."

Harmison's return has not been greeted with universal joy. Michael Atherton, the former England captain, described it as an uninspiring selection. Mickey Arthur, the South African coach, questioned Harmison's recall too, suggesting that England were looking for a "quick fix". In 2004 Harmison was rightly rated as the best bowler in the world, and his hostile bowling at Lord's on the first day of the 2005 Ashes, when he rattled Australia's top three batsmen with fast bouncers, played a major part in England's success. But the 30-year-old's form in the past 18 months has been disappointing and his commitment has been questioned. On each of last winter's tours he turned up injured and short of match practice.

The return to county cricket appears to have helped Harmison enormously, allowing him to regain form and confidence. For Durham this summer he has taken 75 wickets. Umpires who have watched him bowl at close quarters say he is bowling extremely well.

"Sometimes you need to take time away from the game and away from the big stage to get everything back in a groove and get everything right to actually come back," said Harmison. "Hopefully I'm a better bowler for having time out of the team and hopefully I've learnt a few things about my own body and bowling. I'm looking forward to this week if I can get a game.

"For me it is hard to go straight into Tests, and I feel I've got overs under my belt now."

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week