England plan bouncer barrage
England are poised to follow Steve Harmison's blueprint for success against Australia.
Last Updated: 05/07/09 5:18pm
England are poised to follow Steve Harmison's blueprint for success against Australia despite overlooking the Durham paceman for the first Ashes Test.
The hosts have named a 13-man squad for the series opener, starting in Cardiff on Wednesday, but found no place for the in-form Harmison.
Harmison pressed his claims with a strong performance for the second-string England Lions in their four-day warm-up fixture against Australia.
The 30-year-old bagged six wickets in the match, including the scalp of Australia's rookie opener Phil Hughes in each innings - bounced out on both occasions.
But the selectors opted to keep faith in his Durham team-mate Graham Onions, who impressed during his debut series against West Indies earlier in the summer.
"Steve did come into the discussion, but we've also got other bowlers who can do that as well," revealed national selector Geoff Miller.
"It wasn't just a fact that it was Steve who did it, it showed us an area that maybe he has a problem with but I'm sure knowing the Australians they'll go away and try and rectify that themselves.
"That's what Test cricket is all about - analysing your game and moving on - but what it has shown us is that we have bowlers who can bowl those deliveries as well as Steve."
Stuart Broad will have noticed Harmison's success with the short ball having ruffled Ramnaresh Sarwan with the same tactics earlier this summer, while Andrew Flintoff can also be relied upon to bowl with hostility.
James Anderson's ability to swing the ball will compliment the pace of the other pair while Onions is another seam option if England do not decide to play spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann in tandem.
"We've seen what Steve can do and we know what he's capable of doing, we just need him to go away and continue to do that because there might be some surface somewhere later on in the series that requires the kind of bowler that Steve Harmison is - he's quite understanding of that," explained Miller.
"Steve bowled really well at Worcester, but the thinking was that Graham Onions has got possession of the position, he's done well (with England) and done well in county cricket and we are consistent with our selection policy so he got the nod.
"It's not a sprint this series, it is a marathon with five Test matches and I had a chat with Steve yesterday (Saturday), he understood the situation but there's another four Tests after this so we'll wait and see there."
Ian Bell, meanwhile, believes Australia will be relieved by Harmison's omission.
The Warwickshire batsman, who is included in the squad as batting cover, captained Harmison during the Lions' fixture and was hugely impressed.
"Will the Australians be happy Harmison is not playing? With the new ball, he can be pretty lethal with that extra bounce he gets," Bell said. "I am sure they will be (relieved) in a way.
"When he is in top form, he is one of the best bowlers in the world.
"I had a first-hand view of how he has been bowling in a recent game for Durham against Warwickshire and I felt he was back to his best and in seriously good rhythm, swinging the ball at very good pace.
"Then he was fantastic this past week with the Lions. His whole attitude was excellent and he really wanted to put on a performance.
"He looked in fantastic form and rhythm and he gave a lot of thought coming into the week about how he wanted to bowl at Australia and Phillip Hughes.
"I can't fault him. He ran in really hard on a really flat wicket and did well."