West Indies will forever be ecstasy for Steve Harmison; the Promised Land—it is the spiritual home for any fast bowler.
And it was five years ago, that Harmison was at his peak on the hardest and fastest pitches in the Caribbean, collecting 23 wickets in four tests at 14 runs apiece. In that series, there was the ruthless spell of 7-12 as the West Indies were all out for 47 at Sabina Park.
Frustratingly, he has never recaptured that form.
After that tour in 2004, Harmison had everything going for him—ranked as the No. 1 fast bowler in the world—and he even had the ludicrous premature comparisons to West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose but it was all in blind faith.
Now he has been through the motion. Inconsistent to say the least, too often or not he has been found wandering, as he is the most frustrating English bowler to observe.
He could be on the grasp of greatest with one delivery and with the next one—he could be on the brink of suicide.
Many speak about how devastating Harmison can be; a fit and happy Harmison is one of the world’s best according to his teammates.
Well if that’s the case, he should be exploding with happy pills and covered head to toe in bubble wrap.
If Jamaica was the benchmark, he has fallen dramatically. Brisbane 2006 was his low point as the opening ball in the Ashes went straight to good mate Andrew Flintoff at second slip.
Other times have been a constraint of injuries, homesickness and Newcastle United. Three things that can’t be good for anyone.
A notable 2005 Ashes performance and figures of 6-19 and 5-67 in one test against Pakistan in 2006 was other glimpses of his potential that has failed to flourish.
His has credentials to bowl 90mph consistently and it’s bemusing why we have not seen that Harmison for a long time. His return to the test team last year was for what he could do rather than what he has been doing. Matthew Hoggard probably wishes the selectors were just as forgiving.
His inclusion in the One-day Internationals came about after good friend Kevin Pietersen asked to come out retirement but he has not done anything off worth. With Andrew Strauss at the realm, will he commandingly have a spot in the starting eleven?
It is anything part from a love story with Harmison.
Hopeful the up and coming tour of West Indies, where he performed wonders, will spark the Durham man back into life and reignite his desire for England’s main attack bowler to reclaim former glories.