Let's remind ourselves - in the last 6 Tests of 2004 Harmison did nothing of note except knock-over West Indies' house-of-cards at The Oval. In the other 5 Tests he averaged 48.29. In the first 3 Tests of 2005, meanwhile, he would have taken 0 wickets (for plenty) in each had South Africa declared a few overs earlier.
That suggests that his improved accuracy of early-2004 was indeed a flash in the pan.
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In 48 others he has 145 wickets (and by my reckoning about 40 of these were gimmes - either tailenders or wickets just before a declaration). How does this possibly impress anyone?
Last edited by Richard; 03-07-2009 at 04:20 PM.
Picking up on the point which Richard and Fred are chewing over, one thing about Harmison is that even when he's bowling close to his worst he doesn't get slapped around and usually escapes with un-embarrassing figures. Usually because the batsmen can't reach the ball, obviously, but nonetheless while he can be something of a waste of space when he's bowling badly, he's not a liability in a Devon Malcolm sort of way.
It isn't unfair to suggest someone can be Test-class over a period, however short. But I tend to view it as requiring a year or so of "being" to actually represent a "shift". Which, as I say, Harmison did not have.
The trouble is, well as I see it anyway, is that looking at the whole series objectively, on a man to man comparison we're not quite as good as the crims so if we play it with a straight bat (pun intended) then we'll get beaten - Harmison at the top of his game might change that
As for the tailenders point, you can do this to any bowler's stats because all bowlers' stats are improved by tailend wickets. Harmison has shaken and dismissed his fair share of top-order batsmen.
As for deleting his best figures from the equation, you're getting dangerously into the slightly Stalinist territory of historical purification.
If you delete Murali's 500 best overs, and you remove his tailend wickets and his wickets against minnows, he'd probably have an average like Ian Salisbury's.
In such circumstances, England need to have their best team available to have a chance of capitalising.
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