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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 12:57 GMT
Harmison display worries Boycott
Stephen Harmison in action on the first day of the first Test
Harmison started with a wide to second slip in Brisbane
England legend Geoff Boycott said Stephen Harmison's performance on the first day of the Ashes series left him feeling "deflated".

Durham paceman Harmison started with a wide and sent down 12 toothless overs for 52 as Australia raced to 346-3.

"He just seems to have lost it," Boycott told BBC Radio Five Live.

"You need to get it around chest height or in the ribs, in the awkward area like a Garner or an Ambrose, and he's not been doing it for a long time."

Boycott said England need to get Harmison firing as soon as possible if they are to retain the Ashes.

"Harmison has all the ammunition," insisted Boycott.

"He has the pace, he can get great bounce because he's 6ft 5in - but you have to bowl it on a reasonable line and a reasonable length and make the batsman play.

Steve Harmison is crucial to England - we need him firing

England spinner Ashley Giles

"He did it one little spell at Old Trafford last summer, but the pitch was so conducive to bowling - it was green and it was bouncy - you've got to do it on flat pitches.

"Technically someone should be sorting him out - he's falling over a little bit.

"And his wrist action isn't good - it's falling to one side and he's pushing the ball.

"Once you get the technical things right and he starts getting the ball in the right areas then his confidence will improve, his rhythm will get better, he'll start bowling faster and then you have the real deal."

Harmison missed the final warm-up game, against South Australia last week, because of a side strain.

He has struggled all year with niggling injuries and inconsistent form.

Recalled England spinner Ashley Giles, asked if Harmison was now fully fit, said after the first day's play: "I am not aware that he is injured."

On his day he might be as good as anybody - we can't afford to take him lightly

Australia captain Ricky Ponting

Giles said the fact Harmison only bowled 12 overs all day was down to captain Andrew Flintoff's tactics rather than the Durham bowler's fitness.

"Everyone was nervous this morning," Giles told BBC Radio Five Live.

"Steve's first ball went to second slip. He was obviously up tight and worried about his bowling.

"Steve Harmison is crucial to England. We need him firing and we need him at his best to win Test matches for England."

Australia captain Ricky Ponting said the Australians were not writing off Harmison just yet.

In the 2005 series in England Harmison tore into the visitors on the first day at Lord's, and Ponting said he could come good at any moment.

"Obviously he was a bit nervous this morning with that first delivery and our guys played him pretty well today," said Ponting.

606 DEBATE: How are you feeling after day one?

"He set the scene for them in (the last Ashes series). He had us all hopping around early on and he's still capable of doing that.

"He might do it tomorrow morning - he's that sort of bowler. On his day he might be as good as anybody... we can't afford to take him lightly.

"I can only think that he bowled 12 overs today because he just didn't have his rhythm.

"I don't know anything about his injuries or whatever. He did come off the ground a few times today but I don't know if that's got anything to do with his injuries from last week."



ENGLAND PLAYER PROFILES

 

AUSTRALIA PLAYER PROFILES

 


SEE ALSO
England suffer as Ponting shines
23 Nov 06 |  England
Giles predicts England fightback
23 Nov 06 |  England
Ponting elated with Aussie start
23 Nov 06 |  England


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