Day 1 - Close
Rarely have an England team put in as dismal a performance as today. In less than two sessions they played themselves out of the game and possibly the chance of regaining the Ashes.
It was a throwback to the worst days of the 90s, not just in the scorebook but also because a talented discard had returned. Steve Harmison’s comeback was imbued with the same unreasonable expectation and resigned inevitability that accompanied Graeme Hick’s periodical returns into Test cricket.
Both men are remarkably similar: towering, touted, gifted and ultimately too insecure for Test cricket. The English obsession with Hick through the 90s was symptomatic of their lack of world-class batsmen and the preoccupation with Harmison today is born out of the same problem with the bowlers. Burdened with the ‘great white' hopes of a nation, perhaps the pressure was too much for such fragile temperaments. It seemed the English selectors thought so as Harmison was left out all series.
But, like Hick, he got better with every Test he didn’t play. Thundering the shires, he was just too good to be ignored. And so, like that failed relationship, we gave it ‘one more go’ before, predictably, swearing never to do so again.