Wednesday 3 January 2007 

'Poor Preparation Not To Blame' - Harmison

England fast bowler Steve Harmison has denied that lack of adequate preparation has hampered his performance in the Ashes series.

Harmison took two wickets to help reduce Australia to 188 for four on the second day of the final test on Wednesday, bowling a hostile closing spell which was a far cry from the wayward start he made to the series.

"I cannot see what we could have done better in terms of our preparation," Harmison told a news conference.

"We came back from the Champions Trophy, had four days at home and then came out to Australia. The simple fact is that we haven't performed as well as would have liked as a team but I don't think you can blame the preparation."

Harmison bowled the first ball of the series in Brisbane, a wild wide that ended up in the hands of second slip, and said in his newspaper column that he had frozen under the pressure of the occasion.

The former top-ranked bowler in the world took only eight wickets in the first four tests at an average of over 65, failing to make a significant impact as Australia regained the Ashes.

"We were all disappointed, dejected, whatever word you want to use," he said. "At the end of the third test our dressing-room was a horrendous place to be.

"But we have stuck together as a team and tried to focus on this last match which we badly want to win."

NEW BALL

The 28-year-old does not know why he is no longer taking the new ball for England.

"No one has spoken to me about it," he said. "I'm not bothered about the new ball, at the end of the day I will do whatever I'm asked to do by my captain.

"All I want to do is play for England and I'll do whatever I'm asked to do to the best of my ability."

Harmison, who has suffered from homesickness on previous tours, admitted he has struggled for rhythm throughout the series.

"It is frustrating but at the end of the day I am trying my hardest and giving everything I possibly can," he said.

Harmison also denied that his decision to quit one-day internationals had anything to do with his problems in Australia.

"I knew that I was going to quit one-dayers before we left for Australia and I told (coach) Duncan Fletcher and a few guys in the dressing room," he said. "So what has happened here had nothing to do with my decision."

© Reuters 2007.
By Ed Osmond