Thursday 21 December 2006 

Steve Harmison Quits One-day Cricket

England fast bowler Steve Harmison has announced his retirement from one-day cricket just three months ahead of the World Cup.

The 28-year-old decided to quit after being omitted from England's 16-man squad for the upcoming triangular series with Australia and New Zealand, the last tournament before next year's World Cup in the West Indies.

Harmison, who made a disastrous start to the Ashes series and has struggled to regain form, said he decided to abandon the abbreviated form of the game and concentrate on tests.

"After careful consideration and having taken advice from several people who have been close to me throughout my career, I have decided to retire from one-day international cricket with immediate effect," he said in a statement released by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

England's main strike bowler made a comical start to the Ashes when he bowled the first ball of the series off the pitch and straight at Andrew Flintoff at second slip.

The tall Durham paceman finished the first test defeat in Brisbane with the unflattering figures of 1-177 then failed to take a single wicket in the second match in Adelaide after the humiliation of being stripped of the new ball.

Harmison penned an emotional apology about his performance in his weekly column in a British newspaper, admitting he "choked" but was lampooned by the British and Australian media for his erratic displays.

He did show some encouraging signs of improvement in Perth when he bagged 4-48 in the first innings but lost his way in the second innings with a return of 1-116.

"This has been a difficult decision but I want to play at the highest level for as long as I can and believe that concentrating solely on test cricket is the best way forward for me during the next phase of what will hopefully be a long England career."

The paceman ends his one-day international career with 67 wickets from 46 matches at an average of 30.70.

Harmison's decision is another major blow to England's hopes of winning the World Cup for the first time after opening batsmen Marcus Trescothick walked out on the team before the first Ashes test because of a stress-related illness.


© Reuters 2006