Hurricane Harmison capable of opening old wounds.
The Ashes are coming, and we are now, England hierarchy approved, allowed to talk about it. But what is left to say? We are in the lull before the storm, making predictions of tight series and even contests, but as the clouds gather and the Australians murmur, England have yet to assemble their crew. Captain Strauss has served his apprenticeship yachting around the Caribbean, and after the England stop start speedboat stop started and stalled the country is ready to embark on a new voyage.
We know Flintoff will return if hes fit. Its Flintoff, runless as per usual, but still Flintoff. As a runless allrounder over the course of a few seasons he wont be shown the same door as Matthew Hoggard was after one poor test match. Its easier to move on from Hoggard, with the talent of Broad and Anderson to lead the attack instead and Freddies bowling still enough to justify his spot. Ah Freddie, just the mention of him returning inspires memories of 2005. Cursed, wonderful, 2005. The culmination of Englands greatest spell for 20 years, and the start of enjoys travails over the last four years.
The English attack that summer could not be more different. Collectively they performed, but together they fell, one way or another. Jones was lost at sea, destined to be Leonardo of the Titantic, crucial to the plot but destined not to reach the end. Hoggard carried on, as ever, taking wickets until one day he didn't and it surprised everyone. Giles is still involved in largely the same way he was then. Not the main man, but an important one nonetheless. Freddie was Freddie, and many believe with eyes closed and fingers crossed he will be again. Then there was Harmy. Undeniably he's still the same in every way.
Big Steve clearly loves taking wickets, but sometimes seems apologetic to the batsmen that they were the ones who lost out. Often he doesn't take wickets and that softer side of him takes over. He thinks about why he isn't taking wickets, and ends up not taking wickets and bowling badly too. Stop thinking Steve. Just don't do it, it doesn't help at all. So, to fix this, England sent him away to think about what he had done.
While Harmison thought about how not to think properly, other bowlers stepped in to show Team England they could take wickets. Mahmood and Tremlett tried doing the Harmison thing, but couldn't figure it out at international level, while Pattinson and Plunkett did their own thing,which didn't quite work either. With the Swalec probably welcoming Messers Swann, Flintoff, Broad and Anderson there's still room for one more. Onions could head to the land of the leek, with Bresnan, Noakes, and Sidebottom the other contenders. But how far off is Harmison?
Starting with 5-108 vs. Yorkshire in late April, Harmy has been encouraging this season so far. Todays match has seen him take the Warwickshire middle order out with 5-39, dispatching Trott and Ambrose as Onions watched on. Following his 6-58 last week he is not only taking wickets but displaying good technical signs, with the return of his "lingering jump" at the point of delivery and front arm shaping well. His delivery position overall shows signs of how it has been at previous times of success in his career, which should please Ottis Gibson and Andy Flower. His least flattering championship was the first game after two weeks of T20 as he took 2-100 against Sussex.
While many Michael Fish experts would predict Sidebottom or a second spinner, one correspondent might be right. It happened in 1987 and at Lords in 2005, and maybe this year again a hurricane will strike.