Thursday, August 21, 2008

Harmison ends ODI retirement

Already back in whites, it's time for Steve Harmison to try some colour.

Steve Harmison has come out of ODI retirement and has been added to England's squad to face South Africa, after Ryan Sidebottom was ruled out of the opening match, at Headingley, due to a groin injury.

"After recently being asked by the England management to reassess my retirement from international one-day cricket I've decided to join England's ODI squad after careful consideration," Harmison said. "It's something I have been thinking about for a period of time and due to recent injuries in the England camp the opportunity has arisen for me to play a role in this series.

"I decided to retire from England's ODI team for a number of reasons, one being the amount of time I was spending away from my family," he said. "Now that my family is settled and my bowling is settled I feel I have something to offer England's ODI side and am looking forward to playing a part in the series against South Africa."

Harmison announced his ODI retirement following the Ashes in Australia and his last ODI was against Australia in Jaipur during the 2006 Champions Trophy. It is a major U-turn from Harmison who, despite his successful return to the Test team at The Oval, continued to insist he was happy to stay out of ODIs.

However, Kevin Pietersen spoke about wanting him back in the one-day side following the Test series against South Africa. "It would be lovely to have him coming in first-change with the white ball, but you don't always get what you want in life," he said. Clearly Pietersen has been able to help change Harmison's mind.

Harmison returned to the Test team earlier this month for the first time since being dropped following the Hamilton Test in New Zealand in March. He said that being out of the England set-up has made him hungry to return in both formats of the game. However, he isn't looking beyond the forthcoming five ODIs against South Africa

"Having missed out on selection at various times this year I am well aware of the disappointment that comes from not being a part of the England dressing room," he said. "With that in mind I want to be a part of the team and if that means bringing myself out of retirement to play a role in this upcoming series then I'm happy to do just that.

"At the moment my focus is on doing well in the ODIs against South Africa and I'm not looking beyond that at this stage."

Harmison has played 46 ODIs, taking 67 wickets at 30.70 with best figures of 5 for 33 against Australia, in Bristol, in 2005. He also has an ODI hat-trick, against India at Trent Bridge in 2004.