New Zealand 470 England 87-2: Harmison on the brink as England fail to impress

Stephen Harmison should privately be hoping that England get bowled out in their first innings over the course of the next two days. Not for 250, so that New Zealand can enforce the follow-on and make England bat again, but for 420-plus.

The attitude may not be the most team orientated ever seen by an England cricketer, but such a scenario would give Harmison one final chance to show the selectors and the cricketing world that he still has the ability to win a game of Test cricket with a devastating display of fast bowling.

Harmison desperately needs a huge performance, a five-, six- or seven-wicket haul obtained by high-quality straight fast bowling. If the display does not come along his Test career could be over.

But does he privately want another chance to prove his worth to the team, or is he quite content to allow events to take their natural course? Plenty of people will have a view on Harmison's devotion to the cause but only he knows.

Harmison was not the sole reason why New Zealand pushed on to score 470 in their first innings, before reducing England to 87 for 2, still 184 runs short of the follow-on, in their reply. Matthew Hoggard was disappointing too, and his place will come under increasing pressure should he continue to lack a cutting edge and leak almost five runs an over.

Every bowler is allowed a bad day – even Glenn McGrath had them occasionally – but two bowlers who have taken 460 Test wickets between them should not be continually out-bowled by someone playing in their 11th Test. Ryan Sidebottom was once again the pick of England's fast men and he fully deserved the four wickets that came his way.

All three bowled indifferently when England needed them to be at their best in the opening session of the second day. The match was delicately poised after day one, but two hours of fine batting from Ross Taylor, who scored a maiden Test hundred in his third match, and Daniel Vettori, who scored an exquisite 88, ended England's chances of dismissing the Black Caps cheaply.

Taylor was magnificent, especially through the off side. The 23-year-old is a naturally aggressive batsman but he curbed those tendencies to play a vital innings for his side.

Vettori gave Taylor a huge hug when he pulled Harmison for four to reach three figures. The New Zealand captain knew that his innings and the pair's record seventh-wicket partnership of 148 gave his side the control he wanted. If Taylor continues to show such application he could become one of leading batsmen in the world.

If only Alastair Cook had shown such restraint. England looked set to end the day in a comfortable position before the left-hander, on 38, attempted to pull Chris Martin for four and top-edged a catch to deep square leg. England sent out Hoggard as their nightwatchman and he perished in Martin's next over, edging a lifter to first slip.

Hoggard is an ordinary batsman and sending him out was hardly the most positive notice of intent, but the reaction of the ball when it hit the pitch showed what could happen when a bowler really bends his back. And that is why the performance of Harmison is so disappointing. Martin works hard but, compared to Harmison, he is limited as a fast bowler. But in the 12 overs Martin bowled he consistently hit the high eighties, eight to 10mph faster than Harmison.

Speed does not always reflect effort but it was alarming to see Sidebottom, a bowler omitted by Duncan Fletcher, England's previous coach, because he was not fast enough, bowling quicker than Harmison, the team's spearhead.

It would be unfair to question Harmison's effort; he has always given 100 per cent for England. The pace at which he is bowling is disconcerting because it highlights a complete lack of confidence or rhythm. Harmison should be judged on the quality of his bowling, which, sadly, has been poor for far too long. When Andrew Flintoff is in the team it is possibly worth picking him, but as part of a four-man attack – in this form, no.

Loyalty is an admirable trait but it can only stretch so far. In the last couple of years England's selectors have shown patience beyond belief towards Harmison and they have not got a great deal back. Everyone hopes that he will suddenly wake up one morning and click in to the form of 2004/05, but there is more chance of David Beckham going past a defender on the right flank and whipping a cross in from the by-line.

England's predicament is not helped by their itineraries and the lack of quality practice at the start of a tour. It is constantly mentioned and ignored by the administrators. Perhaps they are a bigger threat to Test cricket than the Twenty20 Leagues in India.

It is not a coincidence that Harmison and Hoggard are struggling and they are the only two bowlers that did not bowl in competitive cricket before the start of the tour. By agreeing to these schedules the administrators are short-changing everyone involved in the game.

Hamilton Scoreboard: Day Two

Second day of five; New Zealand won toss

New Zealand – First Innings

(Overnight: 282 for 6)

L R P L Taylor c and b Pietersen 120

322 min, 235 balls, 18 fours

J D P Oram c Cook b Hoggard 10

30 min, 29 balls, 1 five

†B B McCullum c Ambrose b Sidebottom 51

76 min, 55 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes

*D L Vettori c Strauss b Collingwood 88

198 min, 134 balls, 11 fours, 1 six

K D Mills not out 25

57 min, 44 balls, 5 fours

J S Patel c Strauss b Sidebottom 5

15 min, 9 balls, 1 four

C S Martin b Sidebottom 0

1 min, 1 ball

Extras (b1 lb6 w1 nb3) 11

Total (575 min, 138.3 overs) 470

Fall: 1-44, 2-108, 3-12, 4-176, 5-191 , 6-277, 7-425, 8-451 , 9-470, 10-470.

Bowling: Sidebottom 34.3-8-90-4; Hoggard 26-2-122-1; Harmison 23-3-97-1; Panesar 37-10-101-1l; Collingwood 15-2-42-2, Pietersen 3-1-11-1.

England – First Innings

A N Cook c sub (N K W Horsley) b Martin 38

143 min, 118 balls, 4 fours

*M P Vaughan not out 44

163 min, 114 balls, 5 fours

M J Hoggard c Fleming b Martin 2

9 min, 7 balls

A J Strauss not out 1

9 min, 9 balls

Extras (nb2) 2

Total (for 2, 163 min, 41 overs) 87

Fall: 1-84, 2-86.

To bat: K P Pietersen, I R Bell, P D Collingwood, †T R Ambrose, R J Sidebottom, S J Harmison, M S Panesar.

Bowling: Martin 12-4-27-2; Mills 6-2-17-0; Patel 9-2-23-0; Oram 4-0-9-0; Vettori 10-5-11-0.

Umpires: S J Davis and D J Harper (both Aus).

TV replay umpire: B F Bowden (NZ).

Match referee: J Srinath (Ind).

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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'