Miller - Harmy not a risk
England's national selector Geoff Miller says "there's no risk at all" in the decision to recall Steve Harmison.
Last Updated: 27/07/08 6:48pm
England's national selector Geoff Miller says "there's no risk at all" in the decision to recall Steve Harmison for the third Test against South Africa.
Harmison was jettisoned after the first Test of the tour to New Zealand in March due to a wayward display.
The Durham fast bowler, who has 212 wickets in 57 Tests, has since forced his way back into the reckoning with some strong performances in county cricket.
He is the leading wicket taker in Division One of the LV County Championship and, with England 1-0 down to the Proteas at the mid-point of the four-match series, the selectors have decided the time is right for an international return.
"There's no risk at all," said Miller. "We wouldn't have put him in if we thought there was a risk.
"We talk to all the players regularly and I have watched him bowl this year and talked to him myself.
"People are now saying he is in a better place than he was, and he now looks like the bowler he was a couple of years ago when he was striking fear into opposition batsmen."
Harmison's captain at Durham, Dale Benkenstein, is another advocate of his return to the top level.
"He's been outstanding in all forms of the game," enthused Benkenstein.
"He's got great control at the moment, he's bowling with great pace and I think he's ready to get back into the Test side.
"He adds a new dimension. He's got pace and bounce and will bring a fear factor into the game.
"He adds a good balance to the side and I don't think the tail will be hanging around with him in the team. For me it's great to have him in the side - I'd never leave him out of our side."
Harmison has been named in a 13-man squad for Edgbaston and there is no guarantee that he will make the starting XI on Wednesday.
Nottinghamshire's Darren Pattinson, the much-maligned stand-in swing bowler who made his debut at Headingley, has been dropped, while Stuart Broad's ineffective summer with the ball could result in his omission as England search for a balanced line-up.
Axe to fall on Broad?
"It is tough," admitted Miller. "Stuart is a young lad and he has done really, really well.
"But at some stage you have to look at the situation, you do not want burnout, and there is a lot of cricket to be played.
"He's involved in both five-day and one-day cricket and there is lots and lots of that.
"It is a case of nurturing him and making sure we get the best out of him now if possible but over a longer period of time as well."
Miller, meanwhile, insists the door is not closed on either Australian-raised Pattinson or Yorkshire veteran Matthew Hoggard, who - like Harmison - has not featured since the Hamilton Test in March.
Asked if he had regrets about picking Pattinson for the 10-wicket defeat in Leeds, a defiant Miller said: "No regrets at all.
"We are not just picking a team any more, there is so much cricket it is now about a squad and if he bowls as well as he has done in the first half of the season he will be in with a shout of further opportunities."
On Hoggard, he added: "He's still part of the equation.
"He's still a centrally-contracted player but at the moment in time when we picked the last Test side he was being out-bowled by Darren Pattinson.
"That's the decision we made but that doesn't mean to say that Matthew is out of the picture."