Harmison not counting chickens

England v West Indies
Steve Harmison

Steve Harmison claimed four wickets in the run-heavy draw against West Indies A

Steve Harmison hopes to feature at the scene of his greatest triumph this Wednesday - although he recalls his fast-bowling masterclass in Jamaica five years ago as a bit of a blur.

Harmison's career has not followed a straight road since his 7-12 at Sabina Park set England on the way to a crushing Test series victory and him towards the summit of international bowlers.

Having been dropped for the Mohali Test before Christmas, however, the 30-year-old has been striving for another up on his journey.

Selection will be tricky for new captain Andrew Strauss regardless of whether key all-rounder Andrew Flintoff overcomes a side strain - all the signs to date are positive - but Harmison helped his own cause when he turned in the best statistical performance by a paceman in the run-heavy draw with West Indies A which concluded yesterday.

His 4-101 might not have exuded real menace but proved fair reward for perseverance on an excellent batting surface at Warner Park and turned attention to the Test series opener.

ECBtv spoke to Steve Harmison after the final day of the second warm-up game in St Kitts

"I am looking forward to going back, especially if they produce a wicket like it," said Harmison, whose career-best haul set up a 10-wicket win. "But I don't want to count any chickens.

"I don't remember much about that day, it is a bit of a blur.

"I am not really one for watching old tapes, so I can't recall it specifically, I just have fond memories of all my Test matches even when things haven't gone well like the Ashes Test in Brisbane.

"It hasn't been a straightforward road but I can't tell you how much I love playing for my country."

It was the 2004 tour here which developed a winning culture and momentum maintained for 18 months culminating in Ashes success, and England could do with history repeating itself.

Nasser Hussain & Steve Harmison

Harmison returns to the scene of his 2004 triumph - when he took 7-12 - this Wednesday

"Every game delivers a whole new set of circumstances and hopefully we can repeat five years ago because we got off to a good start there last time," Harmison added.

"Hopefully we will do that again because we - not just me but the whole team - have got to make some advances.

"The Ashes bid starts from Wednesday morning. That is the big thing for us."

And Strauss appears pleased with Harmison's physical fitness less than a year after he laboured at the start of a tour of New Zealand.

"From Harmy's point of view it was great for him to play two matches and get a lot of overs under his belt," Strauss said. "We all know that the more Harmy bowls, the more rhythm he gets into and the quicker he gets it through as well.

"I think he got better and better each spell he bowled and he has definitely got his name in the hat.

"It was difficult to tell much from this pitch but his areas were good and his pace increased throughout."

Harmison may be vying with James Anderson for the final pace slot as he attempts to rid himself of inconsistency and return to former glories.

"I hope I can get back there," said Harmison, who was ranked the world's number one bowler in 2004. "The first thing is to get back in the team because I am not in possession at the minute.

"Staying fit and taking wickets - after all I am supposed to be a wicket-taker - is what will get me in.

"If I don't take wickets I am not in the team: that is why I was dropped in India, it is why I was dropped in New Zealand.

"I know I if I am not bowling up to 90 miles per hour and taking wickets there is no place for me.”

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