England have recalled Stephen Harmison to their 13-man squad announced yesterday for the third Test against South Africa starting at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
The Durham fast bowler has not played for England since being dropped along with new-ball colleague Matthew Hoggard following the first Test defeat away to New Zealand in Hamilton in March.
But he has looked back to somewhere near his best during county cricket this season and now the 29-year-old has been recalled to add extra pace to an attack that has taken just 13 wickets in the last 344.3 overs bowled at South Africa during the series.
Australia-raised seamer Darren Pattinson, controversially awarded a Test debut in the second Test at Headingley, where the Proteas won by 10 wickets to go 1-0 up in the four-match series, and squad member Chris Tremlett have both been dropped.
England have also recalled Harmison’s county colleague Paul Collingwood, dropped at Headingley where England’s top five batsmen managed just one fifty between them in the whole match.
Left-arm quick Ryan Sidebottom, a Nottinghamshire teammate of Pattinson, returns to the squad after missing the second Test because of a back injury.
But it is the recall of Harmison which was the eye-catching move.
“Steve Harmison has been bowling well for Durham this season and his inclusion in the Test squad gives us another option in terms of our bowling attack for the Edgbaston Test,” England national selector Geoff Miller said. “Ryan Sidebottom has been progressing well with his back injury over the past week and we’re confident he’ll be fit for selection, but obviously he’ll be monitored closely in the lead up to next Wednesday.”
Collingwood, who had played 33 consecutive Tests until being dropped, could now return if England decide to bolster their batting by opting for a four-man, rather than five-man, attack at Edgbaston.
“Paul Collingwood was unlucky to miss out on a place in the team for the second npower Test match, but this decision was based on a number of factors,” Miller said. “He has shown what a true professional he is by returning to Durham over the past week and playing well for his county.”
Victory for South Africa at Edgbaston would give them an unbeatable 2-0 lead and see them win a Test series in England for the first time since 1965.