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Page last updated at 22:16 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 23:16 UK

Harmison return pleases Pietersen

Steve Harmison and Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen (right) was keen to bring back Harmison

England skipper Kevin Pietersen praised Steve Harmison's contribution after he returned to the one-day side to help them beat South Africa at Headingley.

Harmison took two wickets as England got the series off to a winning start.

"He was absolutely brilliant," said Pietersen. "He came back and did what we asked. It was a big plus for Steve and big pluses for all the boys.

"For Steve to make a U-turn at the last hour was magnificent and he delivered. Long may that continue."

Harmison was persuaded to come out of retirement from the one-day game - a decision he had made during the 2006-07 Ashes series - following an injury to Ryan Sidebottom.

He took the wickets of South African skipper Graeme Smith and Jean-Paul Duminy - and bowled with pace and accuracy as England's bowlers came good to give them a 1-0 lead in the five-game series.

Pietersen won the man-of-the-match award after scoring 90 runs and chipping in with two wickets, but the skipper was quick to praise his team-mates following a narrow victory.

"The team were brilliant," he said. "The boys did a good job. I asked a lot of the lads. I think there are a few areas we can still improve but all round, I can't blame anyone.

"There's no point resting on our laurels, though. It is a long series, there are still four more games to play.

"We always start well and we end up messing it up a bit so I think Nottingham on Tuesday is a huge, huge fixture for us."

Pietersen's opposite number Graeme Smith blamed "rustiness" for a below-par performance from his side.

"I don't think we played our best one-day game over the last two years," said Smith. "But credit to England, they had a partnership that was fantastic.

"We were beaten by a better team so credit to England - they played with more intensity and skill.

"We need to do some work. We've not played a ODI game since March and we will definitely improve for Nottingham."

Meanwhile, Harmison said his return to the one-day team had nothing to do with any financial motivation.

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His comeback puts him in contention for the Twenty20 match against Stanford's All-Star team on 1 November which could net him 500,000 if England triumph.

But, speaking before Friday's match, Harmison told BBC Sport: "I'm not coming back for financial reasons.

"I retired from one-day cricket for cricketing reasons and I'm coming back for cricketing reasons."

Harmison, 29, last played a one-day international for England in October 2006.

After suffering at the hands of Australia in the 2006-07 Ashes, he then publicly announced he had retired from one-day internationals.

Earlier this month he returned to the Test set-up having lost his place earlier in the year in New Zealand because of his poor form.

Harmison's return is also thought to have been down to the influence of Pietersen, who has made no secret of his admiration for the Durham bowler.

"I'd been told by so many people to try to get Steve Harmison so I though I'd give it a final go," said Pietersen.

"I met up with Steve at the hotel the other day after his game with Notts and he was pretty positive about things.

"He's keen as anything and he and is helping us out of a situation with Ryan (Sidebottom) being injured."


see also
England v South Africa photos
22 Aug 08 |  England
Harmison relief at fine comeback
07 Aug 08 |  England
Harmison retires from one-dayers
21 Dec 06 |  England
South Africa in England in 2008
22 Aug 08 |  Cricket


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