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.

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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones