Thu, Jan 04, 2007 - Page 20 News List

England still retains hopes of spoiling the Aussie party

AP , SYDNEY

Steve Harmison has been in this situation before, staring down the barrel at a 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia.

His memories of the fifth Test match in Sydney in 2003 were good, a rare feeling for him on an Australian tour.

England still has a chance to spoil the Sydney Cricket Ground celebrations for Australia, which is aiming for the first sweep of a five-match Ashes series in 86 years and desires to send bowling greats Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and opening batsman Justin Langer into Test retirement with another win.

"I think I'm the only one left that's been in this position before, 4-0 down going to Sydney. And we won last time, so we can draw on some of that, give it one last effort," Harmison said. "If we have to spoil the party, then we will spoil the party."

"It's three fine cricketers going out, fantastic players, but it's a Test match and England want to win no matter who's last game it is," he said.

England was bowled out for 291 yesterday, losing its last five wickets for 33 runs. Australia was 188 for four in reply at the end of day two, with Harmison taking two key wickets to remove Matthew Hayden (33) and Michael Clarke (11) with lifting deliveries.

But the 28-year-old paceman knows the job is not done yet, with Andrew Symonds and Mike Hussey -- averaging 114 in the series -- still at the crease and Adam Gilchrist to come.

"We have to stay focused and patient tomorrow morning to bowl them out," he said.

Harmison took 17 wickets, including 5-43 in the first Test, when England won the 2005 Ashes series at home in an upset on the back of a pace quartet that consistently produced reverse swing.

His two tours to Australia have been nowhere near as successful.

Harmison took nine wickets at an average of 50 in the 2002-03 series, including four wickets in Sydney when England won by 225 runs to put a dampener on Stephen Waugh's farewell to Test cricket.

His two wickets yesterday gave him 10 for this series at an average of 55, but did include his best spell of the Australian summer in a 12-over burst that netted 2-11.

Harmison said he had to shoulder more responsibility yesterday. Matthew Hoggard, England's leading bowler, was ruled out of the Sydney match with a side injury.

"Obviously, if you lose probably your best bowler of the series, everybody has to step up a little bit and that's what we've tried to do," Harmison said.

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