Fast bowling longevity

Do any other England supporters feel like we're not getting our money's worth out of our fast bowlers?

Steve Harmison had his brief period of glory in successive series against the Windies and has since irked us again and again with his inability to once again reach those heights.

Andrew Flintoff's ankle sabotages his every step. Or at least every other one. The latest news about it requiring further surgery seems to bring about in us an awareness of the passage of time and how both his and our glory days might be long gone. At least Flintoff's glory days were just that.

Then there's the daddy of them all: Simon Jones. A man whose entire reputation is built on three and a half Test matches and a complete lack of evidence as to whether these were a flash in the pan.

Contrast this with Glenn McGrath - not fast, but still a strike bowler who managed to appear in 124 Tests, playing until most people's middle-aged spread prohibits standing for any length of time. Once he found his feet at Test level, he never lost them again. Steve Harmison's feet must have been stolen and buried on Easter Island or somewhere.

Shaun Pollock's no longer quick, but he's made up for it with accuracy. Wasim Akram went a similar way, but marrying accuracy with unmatched skill. Waqar Younis went out all guns blazing, obviously. Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh are probably still the best bowlers in the West Indies, just as they were when they retired.

In contrast, England's bowlers can't seem to maintain a lengthy period of high-level performance. The reasons are varied, the effect is the same.

Except the Hoggster, of course. He's exempt.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

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