Harmy regrets putting Ponting in stitches!

Published: Monday, November 6, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:England's pace spearhead Steve Harmison made a surprise admission that his big regret from last year's epic Ashes victory was his apparent uncaring attitude towards a bloodied Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.

It was a towering Harmison (Harmy) bouncer that pounded into Ponting's helmet in the opening Test of last year's series at Lord's that set the tone for one of the mightiest battles in Test cricket.

Harmison's rising delivery forced the grille of Ponting's helmet into his cheek and nicked a cut that required stitches.

Soon after that, the shaken-up Australian skipper was caught in the slips giving Harmison the prized wicket of the batsman he rates as the best player he's ever bowled at.

But the 28-year-old Durham paceman remains remorseful about the pain he inflicted on Ponting that day, and spoke of his lingering regret at the England team's media day at the Sydney Cricket Ground on the tourists' first full day in Australia ahead of this month's series.

Harmison is not the archetypal fast bowler who enjoys nothing more than intimidating opposing batsmen with short-pitched deliveries and occasionally hitting the batsmen, sometimes drawing blood.

"As a bowler and as a person I was disappointed with myself the way it came about," he told reporters Monday.

"I didn't realise the extent of the injury until I got back to my (bowling) mark, and by then it was too late. It was probably the one regret of the whole Ashes series."

Ponting still bears the scar a year on, and Harmison said he had never spoken to the Australian skipper about the incident, yet it still played on his mind.

"I respect the bloke for what he is, as a cricketer and as the Australian captain," he said.

"As much as I am a fast bowler and the ball does come out of my hand at decent speeds, and the ball does bounce, and it is a dangerous thing, nobody likes to see anyone get hurt.

"I'm not a big one for (blood on the pitch) to be honest. But it's my job. I bowl at 'X' miles an hour, the ball bounces, it goes through. It's a man's game, people do get hit."

But Harmison was not going soft and said he had no intentions of changing the way he bowled with his high arm action in the coming five-Test series, which gets underway in Brisbane on Nov 23.

"I don't think it's going to stop me from bowling short balls at anybody, and I don't think I'll be slowing up because of it," he said.

"It's just something that happened. I'm not somebody that is in the business to hurt people. I'm in there to take wickets any which way possible."

Although he won't nominate particular Australian targets, such as his Australian rival Glenn McGrath often does before a series, Harmison spoke of his respect for Ponting.

"The one player I obviously enjoy (getting out) is Ricky Ponting, because in my opinion he's the best player I've ever bowled at. And it probably lifts you just a little more when you come to bowl at him," he said.

"But I'd never target anybody, because if you get Ricky Ponting out, then Damien Martyn comes in, Adam Gilchrist comes in after that. Good players come in. You lose focus if that happens."

Harmison did not feel he had a singular responsibility to lead the England attack against the Aussies.

"We hunt as a pack. We hunt as a group," he said.

"We won the Ashes because of four fast bowlers and Ashley Giles as the spinner."

While champion leg-spinner Shane Warne took 40 wickets for Australia, Flintoff's 24 wickets was the most by an Englishman. Harmison snared 17 wickets.

"We all chipped in. And we did it as a group, as a pack, and it will be the same again," he said.


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