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Flower fails to assure Harmison

Steve Harmison
Harmison hopes to resolve his future before the final Test in Trinidad

England assistant coach Andy Flower has declined to give fast bowler Steve Harmison any assurances over his immediate international future.

Harmison, dropped for the fourth Test in Barbados, said he would seek clarification from skipper Andrew Strauss before the fifth Test.

But asked if Harmison still had the necessary hostility and pace, Flower replied: "At the moment he hasn't.

"He's got to put in the performances which make England pick him."

Meanwhile, Flower confirmed Matt Prior would replace Tim Ambrose behind the stumps after returning from paternity leave.

Harmison was replaced by Ryan Sidebottom in Barbados, the third time he has been dropped since returning against South Africa at The Oval last August.

Only Steve knows how hungry he is to carry on the hard yakka of a fast bowler's life

Andy Flower

Harmison appeared to pay the price for being the least effective bowler in England's attack during the drawn third Test and wants to talk to Strauss before the potentially decisive final Test in Trinidad, starting on Friday.

"There's no animosity between Straussy and me," said Harmison after the bore draw at the Kensington Oval.

"But it is important to have a proper conversation. I'm desperate to play for England and I need to know what to do to win back my place.

"When we get to Trinidad I want to sit down with him over a beer or take him out for a meal and see where we stand."

The last time Harmison toured the West Indies in 2004 he took 23 wickets at 14 runs apiece and returned to England as the number one ranked bowler in the world.

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But the Durham man has rarely hit such heights since then, and Flower warned it would only become harder for Harmison now that he has reached the age of 30.

"Fast bowling is long, hard work and at the age of 30 it is only going to get harder work, so it is up to Steve really," said Flower.

"If hard work is just a base that you start with, that's what he's doing at the moment, but for you to be a successful international cricketer you have to be very hungry.

"Only he knows how hungry he is to carry on the hard yakka of a fast bowler's life. I think he still wants to do it. He's proud of his career and proud to play for England."

England have failed to take 20 wickets in a single Test this winter and the Kensington surface was so good for batting that only 17 fell on either side during a contest which yielded 1,628 runs.

It is a statistic which will have to change, however, if England are to avoid becoming victims of West Indies' first Test series success for five years.

"Both those last pitches were quite hard to winkle people out on, so it is a bit frustrating," Flower admitted.

"We hope that the Trinidad pitch does a bit and makes for more interesting cricket, let alone provide the chance for one of the sides to win."

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see also
Strauss stands by key decisions
20 Feb 09 |  England
Harmison calls for England unity
05 Jan 09 |  England
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England


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