RSS feeds from ecb.co.uk

Investec Tests news RSS

Old Trafford in the spotlight

Investec Test Series
Steve Harmison

The bouncy Old Trafford pitch should suit Steve Harmison's fast bowling © Getty Images

England are hopeful Old Trafford's traditional fast and bouncy surface can bring out the best in their mis-firing seamers and secure a series victory over West Indies next week.

Despite their convincing innings victory at Headingley last week, which gave England a 1-0 lead in the four-match npower series, the quicker bowlers have lacked penetration and accuracy.

The only exception has been left-armer Ryan Sidebottom, who marked his first Test in six years with an eight-wicket haul at Headingley, but otherwise England have struggled to find the consistency required at the top level.

But as they approach next week's third Test in Manchester, England hope one of this country's quicker surfaces can help all the seamers - and Steve Harmison in particular - click into place.

Harmison relished Old Trafford last season, when he terrified Pakistan's batsman and claimed a match-haul of 11-76.

Peter Marron

Lancashire groundsman Peter Marron prepares good wickets

"I think all the players enjoy the wickets at Old Trafford because the groundsman there, Pete Marron, always prepares good wickets for batsmen and bowlers," explained chairman of selectors David Graveney.

"Our bowlers certainly enjoyed it last year because it had a bit of bounce and pace in it - you only have to look at how Harmy bowled there to realise that."

Since returning from the Ashes series with his future as an international cricketer under threat, Harmison has done all that has been asked of him in county cricket but struggled to transfer that form to England.

He was wayward in the drawn opening Test at Lord's, finishing with just one wicket, and struggled for long periods at Headingley, although he claimed two for 11 in four overs to complete the convincing victory.

It is that final spell - coupled with his liking for Old Trafford - which has convinced Graveney that Harmison is not far off firing on all cylinders again.

"He's working very hard and you could see he is getting nearer where he wants to be in that final spell at Headingley," said Graveney. "It just needs to click for him and then we'll see him back at his best again."

Meanwhile, England hopeful Sajid Mahmood is set to miss the remainder of this summer's clashes with West Indies after it was revealed he will undergo surgery.

The Lancashire seamer, 25, will have a double hernia operation on Tuesday and is unlikely to play again for five to six weeks.

That means he will miss the third and fourth Tests, along with two Twenty20 internationals and the three-match one-day series which concludes on July 7.

Get our free apps

Apps Promo

Download the ECB Cricket app for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or Nokia phones and get live scores, news, video and other services on the move