Harmy~~s painful Test continues in British press

Published: Friday, November 24, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:English fast bowler Steve Harmison's opening delivery in the first Test of the Ashes in Brisbane went all the way to his captain Andrew Flintoff at second slip, and if he was hoping to forget that moment, he would do well not to read newspapers in Britain.

Harmison ended the day with 0-52 off 12 overs, a far cry from when he set the scene for England's victory last year by hitting Australian captain Ricky Ponting in the grille of his helmet with a delivery.

Newspapers here were not impressed by the bowler's effort, with The Sun tabloid, the country's best-read daily, going so far as to dub it the "Bawl of the century".

The tabloid's match report described the delivery as "one of the most amazing, embarrassing and comical starts to a Test match ever."

The Independent was no more forgiving, describing it as a "howler" that set the tone for "England's day of disasters".

"There was a grotesque combination of stage fright, fluffed lines and pratfalls the like of which had been seen previously only in church hall amateur dramatics," the newspaper declared.

Meanwhile, The Daily Express demanded that England coach Duncan Fletcher "explain this total disgrace" in its headline, with the paper's match report conceding that England "have effectively made a present of this First Test -- and maybe the series, too -- to Australia."

The Daily Mirror made its point simply by printing a photo of the wicket on its back page next to its headline: "Please Harmy, start aiming at these".

When not harping about Harmison's performance on the first day, however, the press here were busy extolling the virtues of Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

He hit an unbeaten 137 at the close of play, and was described as a sure-fire bet to become Australia's best batsman since the great Don Bradman by his predecessor as captain, Steve Waugh.

Ponting's tonne was his 32nd, joining Waugh as Australia's most prolific century-maker.

The Times headlined their match report "Ponting's pedigree leaves England chasing shadows", and commented: "England felt the full impact of his intense preparation, physical sharpness, natural skill and profound determination to gain the earliest possible revenge for last year's defeat".

The Guardian similarly described Ponting's century as "one of the highest class": "He was solidity itself in defence, an object lesson in footwork, and merciless through mid-wicket, his great strength."

"But he pulled emphatically too, drove down the ground, and plundered through the off side off the back foot."

The reaction to the day's cricket was summed up by The Daily Mail's article on the Test thus far, which read: "Harmison's horrendous opening delivery straight to second slip was a tragi-comic way to start the series and set the tone."


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