Stephen Harmison, speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, revealed the thinking behind bowling a risky bouncer to Michael Kasprowicz, the No.11 batsman, which delivered England a narrow two-run win in the 2005 Edgbaston Test.
England were in the driver’s seat when the fourth day began, with Australia on the mat on 175-8 in their pursuit of 282. Harmison admitted that the England team was positive about “being on Broad Street about 12’o clock on Sunday afternoon” to celebrate going 1-1 against Australia.
However, a dogged last-wicket stand between Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz turned the game around, leaving Australia with a realistic chance of pulling off a late heist. From 220-9, Lee and Kasprowicz dragged Australia to within a whisker of a win at 278-9, before Harmison returned to claim the final wicket.
“The way I remember it is, I had lost the left side, I had got tired and realised how tired I was,” Harmison said. “The adrenaline was going, so that kept your legs going but the action was all over the place and I lost the bouncer and I couldn’t bowl it. It kept dribbling on off and going on leg, with nothing on it. But then, it comes to two-three runs to win … you’re 6ft 6′, and you bowl 90 miles an hour, what is the ball that you’ve made your name on?”
Despite being physically sapped, Harmison said that he “always felt in control when I had the ball in hand,” but was “shaking like a leaf” at fine leg when Andrew Flintoff bowled from the other end. Off the third ball of his 18th over, Harmison hurled one in short, a well-directed bouncer that pinged into the gloves of Kasprowicz, who fended it away to a diving Geraint Jones behind the stumps, completing England’s incredible two-run victory.
“To be fair, I had been working on to bowl the short ball, probably for about an over, ten balls previously,” Harmison said. “I bowled one about three balls earlier and it just dribbled and it was awful. And I thought, that’s it, I am not gonna do it again. For some reason, the man, the little fellow on your shoulder, tellin’ you ‘you gotta do it, you gotta do it.’ He told me that and I had to do it, and eventually, it worked. That was the thought process.
“Go and watch the whole thing again, I can hardly bowl any bouncers on that Sunday morning, because when I did, the one or two I did bowl early, they weren’t coming out right. Because the pitch was so slow, [and] it wasn’t worth it. We were trying everything.”