Harmison announces retirement
Steve Harmison, formerly the world's best Test bowler and the spearhead of England's 2005 Ashes attack, has announced his retirement.
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The 34-year-old has called time on his career at the end of Durham's title-winning season, saying he delayed his announcement so as not to take any of the attention away from his county's achievement.
Harmison spoke proudly of his success with Durham while making the news public - he was part of three Championship-winning squads - but he will be more widely remembered for his England career.
After making his Test debut against India in 2002, he would win 63 caps with a return of 226 wickets, with two Ashes wins thrown in for good measure.
His sometimes raw but often deadly right arm would take him to the top of the world's Test rankings in 2004, and he revelled as part of England's 'Awesome Foursome' that also featured Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard.
The quartet terrorised Australia during the 2005 Ashes and, apart from Jones - who plays Twenty20 only - have now all called it a day.
"Today I am announcing my retirement from professional cricket," Harmison said in an interview with the Sunday Sun.
"I was hoping to go out on a high in my benefit year but my body has not allowed me to, and I have not made a single first-team appearance.
"With my contract up at the end of the season, I have known for a while I would be calling it a day.
"But I did not want to take the shine off such a magnificent campaign for Durham by announcing it before the end.
"I may not have been able to contribute in the way I wished, but I have at least got what I most wanted out of the 2013 season - the County Championship trophy back in the cabinet at Chester-le-Street.
"So now, with the club's end-of-season awards night out of the way, I can make my decision public."
Harmison's form for his country would never scale the heights of 2005 again - he infamously started the 2006 Ashes series with an horrendous wide that ended at slip.
The highs did outweigh the lows, though. His seven for 12 against West Indies in Jamaica in 2004 remains one of the greatest displays of bowling by an Englishman, while his last Test was an Ashes-winning one as Australia were beaten at the Oval in 2009.
He was a key figure in the side captained by Michael Vaughan, who tweeted on Sunday: "Well done on a great career @Harmy611 .. Absolute pleasure to Captain..."
Harmison notoriously struggled with homesickness during his career and was never more at home than when playing for Durham.
Short of a loan spell with Yorkshire when his body was failing him in 2012, he was a one-county man from his 1996 debut.
He won the County Championship alongside his brother Ben and listed his achievements with Durham as his best.
"As Durham were developing, I was maturing as an England cricketer but whenever I got the chance to play for Durham I did. I loved coming back to play alongside my mates," he said.
"I don't think my captains and coaches could ever complain about my commitment to Durham.
"To anyone who doubts it, consider this: Even with nine years making 123 appearances for England in all forms of the game, I still took 458 first-class wickets for Durham."
Harmison went out as an England player four years ago, not at the top of his game but on his terms. He left the field after a win over Australia alongside Flintoff, his great friend.
His body started to struggle after that and his last first-class appearance was for Yorkshire against Leicestershire. As Durham won the title this season, Harmison was often working in the media.
"Perhaps playing so much cricket then has cost me now," he said.
"No-one's more frustrated than me at how little I've played for Durham in the last few years, but injuries are part of being a fast bowler.
"I had plenty of highlights in an England career that spanned nine years, during which time I became the world's top-ranked Test bowler.
"But my thoughts always come back to Durham.
"The picture which gives me the most pleasure was of me walking off the field at Canterbury on the day we won Durham's first Championship. One hand, with its wrist broken, is clutching a stump, the other is around my brother Ben."