I've never really been convinced about Steve Harmison being a genuinely world class quick bowler. After the Lord's test last year
, he didn't quite turn up for any of the following four tests. Either he, or someone else, constantly makes excuses for him, ranging from being homesick
, under-cooked, injured, etc.
On day one at the Gabba, he bowled that ball
to kick off the series. A lot of batsmen retreat to short-leg or square-leg when a truly menacing fast bowler delivers the ball. With Harmison, the batsman can stay put. Short-leg and square-leg fielders need to take cover. Short-leg could either tread on the batsman's toes or run to square-leg. Or short-leg and square-leg could take refuge in deep square-leg. Perhaps slip fielders also ought to have a rethink now.
He's far too inconsistent, as Statsguru reveals
. He's taken 180 wickets in 46 tests (avg. 29.6, sr. 56.2), which is fair going, certainly not world-class, mind you! Yank out his 28 wickets against the combined might of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and his numbers are 152 wickets in 41 tests (avg. 32.3, sr. 60.3), which is obviously worse, but still "ok". He's given away more than 100 runs in an innings 9 times and more than 150 in a test 7 times.
Here's the actual problem. A fairly good benchmark of greatness for a bowler is an average at least 4 wickets per test. You look at the names in this list of top wicket-takers
. Warne, Murali, McGrath, Kumble, Hadlee, Ambrose, Marshall, Wasim, Lillee, Donald: All of them average between 4-5 wickets per test. With 180 wickets in 46 tests, Harmison nearly has 4 per test. But you look at his spread of wickets, it indicates his inconsistency. He's taken > 8 wickets in a test on six occasions, which is quite good (13%). But, he's taken less than 4 wickets in a test a whopping 29 times (63%). Here's the breakdown:
|Wickets||Number of tests||%age|
|10 & above||1||2%|
The other way his inconsistency manifests itself is the way he picks up wickets for fun over a 4-5 test stretch, and then sort of goes to sleep for the next half-dozen. There've only really been two times he's had a prolonged good time.
He took 9/79 v Bangladesh and followed it up with a good series in West Indies (9/73, 7/101, 6/76, 1/92), against New Zealand at home (8/202 7/131 6/131) and then 2-3 tests later 5/138 and 9/121 against West Indies at home. His next few returns were 1/142 5/153 1/137 0/89 2/138, and then he picked up 6/124 and 8/97 (the Lord's Ashes test
). Normal service then resumed with 2/110 2/114 4/141 1/87 4/101. Then he had 6/89 and 5/146 (in Pakistan) and followed it up with 1/154, 3/123, 2/70 and 4/137. He then took 11/76 against Pakistan at home.
It was obviously a false dawn, as subsequent returns of 1/204, 4/125 and 1/177 have indicated. Yet, given my superior prediction ability
, chances are I'll be proved wrong!
Labels: ashes, ashes 2006