By this stage, Harmison had emerged as England’s front-line bowler. The lanky 6ft 4ins star was in fine form as he took what would turn out to be career-best figures of 7-12 as West Indies slumped to their lowest-ever total of 47.
England were desperate to win back the urn after a long wait in 2005. When Harmison hit Justin Langer on the elbow with the second ball of the first Test, it set the tone for a determined England display – although the hosts lost the opener at Lord’s. He went one better (unless you’re an Aussie) in the same session when his delivery struck Ricky Ponting on the grille of his helmet, leaving the Aussie skipper with a cut to his face. Ouch!
It’s been lauded as one of the great deliveries of modern cricket. At the end of third day of the second Test at Edgbaston, Harmison produced a cunning slow ball that out-witted Michael Clarke and left Australia needing 107 runs with two wickets to spare. The former Durham man would take the final scalp on day four as England drew level with the tourists in the 2005 series.
In another prolific performance, Harmison memorably ravaged Pakistan’s batting order in the 2006 series. The giant bowler notched up six wickets for 19 runs off just 13 overs in the first innings as he helped put England in charge.
Harmison returned for England’s final two Tests in the 2009 series. The the 30-year-old bowled a brilliant spell in fifth Test at The Oval as he claimed the three penultimate wickets to fall – Peter Siddle and Stuart Clark in a row – on day five but Ben Hilfenhaus prevented the England man from winning the Ashes with a hat-trick.
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