Selectors should stop 'knocking Harmison down'

Yorkshire 178 & 421-9 Durham 313 & 98-4

Having persuaded the England selectors to seize the moment and summon him for national service, Steve Harmison failed to grasp his opportunity to impress further here yesterday. After taking 33 first-class wickets in little more than a month in building his case for a recall, he returned his first victimless innings in six matches.

Not that he could be blamed entirely. He would have had one success had wicketkeeper Phil Mustard not spilled a chance offered by Adam Lyth, while Durham's conservative tactics in setting Yorkshire an unenticing target hardly encouraged risky strokes. Moreover, a pitch that had been slow from the outset had turned near to lifeless.

All the same, after national selector Geoff Miller had turned up to watch him, 11 largely uninspiring overs would not have been what Harmison had in mind. Instead, he mooched around the outfield as Liam Plunkett and spinner Ian Blackwell took the only wickets.

Not that any of that dissuaded Dale Benkenstein, who has watched Harmison's career from close quarters for five years – largely as his county captain – from choosing the moment to deliver a damning verdict on England's omission of his fast bowler from the first Test and their handling of him in general.

"Steve is the most feared bowler in England," Benkenstein said. "You ask any batsman round the circuit – and I think half the Australian side would say the same thing. Yet England keep knocking him down and then asking him to come back and perform again. I don't understand why they don't look after him. It should be their job to keep him going and keep him positive rather than keep knocking him down.

"I'm glad he is a bit closer to playing because he is confident and bowling well but it is my feeling that he should have played at Cardiff anyway. He is far better than any of the bowlers who they had there.

"England go about things quite strangely, they get caught up with too much theory and so many things that go on are not cricket-related. You want guys who are going to win matches and Steve has done it before."

He might have won this one, it could be argued, had Benkenstein – back in temporary charge in place of his successor, Will Smith – given Yorkshire a less forbidding target.

Instead, after Plunkett (65) and Mustard (85) had combined in a county record partnership of 147 for the eighth wicket, he declared after lunch, inviting the home side to score 287 in 59 overs, which they never pursued with much vigour.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project