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The Ashes: Steve Harmison reckons our bowlers a scary proposition

By Ian McCullough,

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    Former England spearhead Steve Harmison fears Australia have the fast bowling battery to produce another Ashes whitewash later this year.

    England have been beaten 5-0 in two of their last three Ashes tours with Harmison part of the side that meekly surrendered the urn in 2006.

    In 2013/14 Alastair Cook’s side suffered a similar fate when their batsmen struggled terribly against the pace of Mitchell Johnson, who finished the series with 37 wickets.

    Although Johnson and fellow England slayer Ryan Harris have now retired, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson ensure there is still great depth in Australia’s fast bowling department.

    The quartet have never been fit to play in the same team, but Harmison believes if they manage to make it onto the field together at the Gabba for the first Test in November, the visitors will be quaking in their boots.

    “I was really impressed with how Australia played against India,” Harmison told BBC Five Live.

    “They didn’t give them any respite. They won the first Test and were in the majority of the others.

    “In the Australian line-up they move the ball through the air very, very quickly and it caused the Indian batsman a lot of problems.”

    England were beaten 4-0 in India late last year after failing to get on top of skipper Virat Kohli, who went on to average 109.16 in the five-match series.

    That was in stark contrast to his performances against Australia where he struggled, averaging a paltry 9.20 before missing the fourth and final Test due to injury.

    “That was down to the Aussie bowling line-up for me,” said Harmison.

    “England have perhaps got one, maybe two in (Mark) Wood and (Steve) Finn who are different to the norm which is electric pace through the air, whereas as Australia have a good bunch in Hazlewood, Starc and Pat Cummins.

    “I was so impressed by Cummins. If they can get them fit and ready for November when England get there I think their batsman will be a bit fearful. In the past they’ve struggled when Mitchell Johnson hit his straps.

    “If England don’t go in with Finn or Wood then the bowling is too much of a similar pace.

    “On good pitches with a Kookaburra ball, as it showed last time, we were a bit toothless.

    “That could be the difference and it could really hurt England.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • Roar Pro

      April 6th 2017 @ 8:19am
      Andrew Young said | April 6th 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Wouldn’t be the first time an Englishman has had nightmares about the GABBA would it now, Steve?

      • April 6th 2017 @ 11:15am
        Bakkies said | April 6th 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        Harmison may be many things but his analysis is usually pretty good. He wouldn’t fit in to the pizza brigade in the Ch 9 commentary box.

        • April 6th 2017 @ 12:14pm
          qwetzen said | April 6th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          My contention is that bowlers are usually much better observers & analysts than batsmen. Exhibit A: Nein’s comm team: Nicholas, Taylor, Warne, Chappell, Slater, Healy, Clarke and Kevin Pietersen.

    • April 6th 2017 @ 10:39am
      JimmyB said | April 6th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

      Harrison has always been fortitudinally challenged.

    • Columnist

      April 6th 2017 @ 12:14pm
      Ronan O'Connell said | April 6th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

      I agree with Harmison, England definitely need to play one of Finn or Wood to add some dynamism to their attack on what are likely to be batting-friendly pitches for the most part.

      On flat Aussie pitches the only English bowler who shapes as a real threat is Broad, who has become a fantastic all-conditions bowler.

      England’s deep batting is their strength, but it will be seriously tested by Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins, Pattinson, Lyon and SOK.

    • April 6th 2017 @ 12:46pm
      Pope Paul VII said | April 6th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

      Should be a battle of the fast bowlers then.

      Old Harmy is right I reckon. Finn and Wood need to be fit to add a bit of spice to Ando and Broad.

      Are they going to have Moeen Ali hanging around at no.8 again?

      With Stokes and the keeper at 6 and 7.

      They’ll only have room for 3 FMs.

      Could be interesting still. In 2013/14 Haddin and Johnners saved our blokes early on last time and a few inexperience players in the top six.

      • Columnist

        April 6th 2017 @ 1:11pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | April 6th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        “Are they going to have Moeen Ali hanging around at no.8 again?”

        Moeen has batted a lot higher, at either 4 or 5, in his past six Tests and did alright in that period, averaging 36 with the bat.

        He definitely bats better when he’s top six rather than down the order like he was in the last Ashes so I’d expect he’ll bat top six in Australia.

        • April 6th 2017 @ 1:55pm
          Pope Paul VII said | April 6th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

          Roger that Ronan

        • April 6th 2017 @ 4:29pm
          qwetzen said | April 6th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

          Ooooh. I do hope Ali bats high. He’s seriously suss against the short ball. Betfair potential.

        • April 6th 2017 @ 5:48pm
          Nudge said | April 6th 2017 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

          They would be mad if they bat Moeen in the top 6 in Australia. Better to have him coming in later when the bowlers are tired and let him play his shots
          5 Bairstow (wk)
          6 Stokes
          7 Butler
          8 Moeen
          The reason Moeen batted in the middle order in his last 6 tests is because they were playing in India and Bangladesh

      • April 6th 2017 @ 7:58pm
        George said | April 6th 2017 @ 7:58pm | ! Report

        Woakes is faster than Finn now.

      • Roar Guru

        April 7th 2017 @ 8:09am
        Ryan H said | April 7th 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        Chris Woakes would bat at 8 you’d think..
        Something like; Cook, Hameed, Jennings, Root, Ali, Stokes, Bairstow/Buttler, Woakes, Rashid, Broad, Finn

        • April 7th 2017 @ 10:07am
          Nudge said | April 7th 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

          They aren’t going to play 2 spinners in Australia apart from maybe the scg, so it’s either Ali or Rashid. Considering the stats of spin bowlers from other countries in Australia it’s most likely they will go with Moeen in front of Rashid due to his batting. Bairstow is a lock for no 5 and unless he has a shocker with the gloves against RSA he will be the keeper. You would think there is only 1 spot for Anderson and Woakes so not sure who’d they go with there. Woakes averages around 50 odd away from home I think

    • April 6th 2017 @ 11:19pm
      davSA said | April 6th 2017 @ 11:19pm | ! Report

      One senses that Aussie cricket is on the up right now and England cricket on the exact reverse trajectory . On paper the Aussie bowling quartet looks hugely more threatening than anything England puts out. But ……..the expectations on Australia for an Ashes win are going to be huge. No way for them to fail in this series . England’s batting is still very impressive however it is bowlers that win matches .

      • April 7th 2017 @ 8:34am
        JimmyB said | April 7th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        I’m not sure about England being ‘on the exact reverse trajectory.’ They are very inconsistent at the moment, but I’d agree that Australia’s bowling resources place them in the box seat for the Ashes (not to mention that Australia are also at home), England have got a tough series coming up against South Africa which should they win, would give them some confidence before heading down under later in the year.
        On the bowling front, Anderson is coming to the end of his England career one would think, he will always do a job in English conditions, but his pace has dropped quite significantly over the last year or two and I don’t think that he would be much cop in Australia if selected. Woakes has overtaken Anderson in the pecking order now and he might surprise a few Aussies with his quality.
        As has been mentioned previously England really need Finn and Wood (or a bolted) to stay fit and find some form. Finn is one of those infuriating bowlers who can either be world class or innocuous, there doesn’t seem to be much in between. He was labelled ‘unselectable’ on the last tour of Australia, i just hope that he finds his rythym over the English summer because the pace and bounce will follow that. He also seems like one of the nicest blokes playing cricket ATM, so I wish him well.
        I always look forward to Ashes series, even though they’ve come about a bit too thick and fast in recent times, however Australia are strong favourites and rightly so, but England do have the capability to surprise a few people, including me.

        • April 7th 2017 @ 10:01am
          Nudge said | April 7th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

          What’s your early 11 Jimmy

          • April 7th 2017 @ 11:58am
            JimmyB said | April 7th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

            Hey Nudge, tbh mate I haven’t seen much of the England players or those on the periphery for a while so I’m probably more sure about who I don’t want in the team than who I do eg Ballance and Anderson.
            If pushed I’d go :
            Cook
            Hameed
            Bell (possibly Jennings or Duckett)
            Root
            Bairstow
            Stokes
            Buttler
            Woakes
            Rashid/Crane
            Broad
            Finn/Wood

            • April 7th 2017 @ 9:12pm
              Nudge said | April 7th 2017 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

              Thanks Jimmy, and good to see you back. Bell is an interesting one. Personally I hope he doesn’t find his mojo in county cricket this year, because if he does it would be big for your boys. Obviously he has been high quality in the past and he would be a great inclusion at 3. I reckon having Hameed and either Jennings or Duckett in the top 3 would be a huge worry for England. Can see 2 for 15 off 6 regularly. If Bell is at his best I don’t see that. I’d even consider taking a big risk and moving Root to 3 and playing one of the young lads at 4 if Bell doesn’t come off. I really hope Moeen isn’t in the team either. Him coming in at 6 for 200 after 60 when the quicks are into there 3rd 4th and 5th spell worry’s me. He killed the Aussies last time in that situation. Yasir shah came over to Australia this summer as nearly the best spinner in the world and left with his tail between his legs. I’d be going with the more accurate off spinner than Rashid and Crane especially well Moeen can take the game away from you in less than a session with the bat. Anyway mate, Aussies are favourites at this stage at home but things can change with in 6 months as we’ve seen in the past

        • April 7th 2017 @ 5:47pm
          davSA said | April 7th 2017 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

          Not surprising this coming from me , but I don’t see either England or SA being ” expected” to win . We would love going into the series being seen as underdogs. But I do believe that the Aussie public absolutely expect an Ashes win and that weight of expectation is going to bring its own pressure.

      • April 7th 2017 @ 10:57am
        Andy said | April 7th 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

        I dont exactly see how England are going in reverse? They are inconsistent and Australia when fit should win the next Ashes but im a little worried about the fitness of the Australian quicks, they seem to be injured more often than any other group of quicks. I dont know if this is a fluke or its CA mismanagement or the pitches here or what. I swear no other team has so consistently had so many bowlers out.

        • April 7th 2017 @ 11:52am
          JimmyB said | April 7th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

          The thing is, is its hard work bowling fast, especially for young guys. It puts a serious strain on the body, so it’s not actually that surprising for guys like Cummins, Pattinson and Starc to suffer from a lot of injuries.

        • April 8th 2017 @ 12:11am
          davSA said | April 8th 2017 @ 12:11am | ! Report

          The Proteas are more often than not without Steyn , Morkel or Philander due to injuries. If anything its a rare breed of fast bowler indeed who can stay relatively injury free. The front foot rule has so much to do with the proliferation in particular of knee injuries in quicks and should be re looked at by the ICC before they fall over themselves to have cricket admitted to the Olympics.

    • April 7th 2017 @ 11:35am
      Jake said | April 7th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

      5-0. The poms are terrified of fast bowling

      • April 7th 2017 @ 2:34pm
        George said | April 7th 2017 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

        As proven in South Africa ??

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