England retain Harmy hope
England coach Peter Moores is positive that Steve Harmison will be available for the first Test in Sri Lanka, despite his latest injury setback.
Last Updated: 26/11/07 10:42am
England coach Peter Moores remains positive that Steve Harmison will be available for the first Test in Sri Lanka, despite an injury suffered on the opening day of the final warm-up game against the SLC Board President's XI.
Harmison, 29, left the field after suffering a back spasm midway through his 11th over, the first of a fourth spell.
The Durham fast bowler had been selected for the tour after proving his fitness following a hernia operation with a two-match stint in South African domestic cricket with the Highveld Lions.
"It is a new injury, nothing to do with his old injury, so at the moment he is disappointed, yes, but hoping it's a bit of a twinge," said Moores.
"Kirk (Russell, England physio) doesn't think it is anything major, hopefully it is one of those things that settles down in the next 24 to 36 hours.
"If that's the case we hope he will be able to take a part in the second innings and bowl.
"We will be careful with him and as it's a practice game he came off straight away.
"It is not exactly what you want but we hope it doesn't stiffen up too much and will settle down.
"If it does stiffen up, injuries are injuries and we will have to take it on the chin."
Harmison had been selected ahead of Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom for England's only first-class warm-up match prior to the first Test, which starts in Kandy on December 1.
"He is disappointed because he found good rhythm, he started to hit his straps a little bit and enjoy himself," added Moores. "He was looking forward to having one more crack.
"When Steve bowls well he attacks the crease and he attacked it with confidence.
"He was happy his foot was half and half at the line, he felt like he was getting better all the time and bowled with good pace. So it put a bit of a cloud on what otherwise was a very good day for us.
"We have all had muscle spasms in the past and when they come they grab like an electric shock - sometimes you can get right again as quickly as it came."
Harmison's injury aside, England's bowlers enjoyed a good first day at the Nondescripts CC ground in Colombo, reducing the SLC Board President's XI to 298-9 by the close.
Smart catching throughout and a late treble strike from left-arm spinner Monty Panesar shifted the momentum back to England after opening batsman Upul Tharanga laid the platform for the innings with 86.
Matthew Hoggard also collected three wickets during 17 overs of work, while James Anderson, Ravinder Bopara and Harmison each collected a single scalp.
"You have to keep patient, stick to the task and wickets can come in little bunches," reflected Moores.
"Monty, after tea, bowled with good energy and really got stuck in and that was a great finish.
"To take wickets against good players of spin you have got to impose yourself as a personality.
"He got his enthusiasm out and had a go and I give him a lot of credit for that. He bowled a lot of good balls after tea which had real energy on them and asked some questions."