Harmison left out of playing XI for Edgbaston Test

Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2008, 19:01 [IST]
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Birmingham: Fast bowler Steve Harmison's return to the England team was put on hold Tuesday when he was left out of the starting eleven for the third Test against South Africa starting at Edgbaston Wednesday.

Harmison and fellow fast bowler Stuart Broad were the two men to miss out from a 13-man squad when captain Michael Vaughan announced the team during his pre-match captain's press conference.

Left-arm swing bowler Ryan Sidebottom returns from injury together with all-rounder Paul Collingwood, who was dropped for the second Test at Leeds, where South Africa won by ten wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series. Broad and Darren Pattinson are the players dropped.

Vaughan said Harmison missed out when it was decided to go into the match with four specialist bowlers instead of five.

"We felt that on this ground the depth in batting would help," said Vaughan.

"We have three strong seamers in Sidebottom, (James) Anderson and Freddie (Flintoff). We feel (left-arm spinner) Monty (Panesar) will do a lot more bowling here, while Collingwood's style of bowling could be useful at Edgbaston."

Collingwood will bat at number six, with Flintoff at seven and wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, who went in at number six in Leeds, dropping down to eight.

South African captain Graeme Smith said the decision to pick an extra batsman was "kind of what we expected"; but he said he was still surprised that England did not opt for a five-man bowling attack.

Smith said his camp had been surprised by what appeared to be 'indecisiveness around the England leadership' following the controversy over the selection of Pattinson for the second Test.

"The discussions, no-one taking responsibility for it, that's surprised me."

He said South Africa would seek to press home the advantage they had gained at Leeds.

"As a team, any time you can see the opposition is under pressure it does benefit you. We know that if we can play really good cricket for the first couple of days here maybe we can open up some wounds, maybe put certain players under a lot of pressure.

"But those things can only happen if you play good cricket. England are a competitive team and they have bounced back before. They've got the players for that and we've got the respect for that."

Smith did not practice Monday or Tuesday because of a sore back but said he expected to play on the ground where he scored a South African record 277 five years ago.

"I'm in a bit of pain but it's about making sure that I'm fully ready for tomorrow. I don't want to do anything that might affect that."

He became aware of the injury after making 87 in the first innings of a match against Bangladesh A in Worcester Friday. He said he wasn't sure what caused it.

"Maybe it was the change of beds," he quipped in reference to the reported cause of the injury which put Sidebottom out of action in Leeds.

Harmison was close to selection, according to Vaughan.

"That's why we brought him back into the squad. That's a sign for him that we think he's got a chance of getting back in. He's not in the eleven this week but who's to say he won't be in the eleven at the Oval the week after.

"Vaughan said he did not feel under any undue pressure after scoring only 23 runs in his first three innings in the series.

"I've had these blips in form and come through them. I always analyse my batting and I believe in this series I've had three decent balls but there were also a couple of them that I could have done better with. I'm hitting the ball well and I believe I can get a big score this week if I get off to a good start."

Vaughan was unapologetic about his post-match comment that the team had been unsettled by the selection of the team for the second Test, which led to selection chairman Geoff Miller seeking clarity from the captain.

"I always try and speak honestly," he said. "I don't really regret it."


England: Michael Vaughan (capt), Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Tim Ambrose, James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom and Monty Panesar.

South Africa (probable): Graeme Smith (captain), Neil McKenzie, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher, Morne Morkel, Paul Harris, Andre Nel and Makhaya Ntini.

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak), Steve Davis (Aus). Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SL).


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