It has been 20 years since Steve Harmison blew away a formidable West Indies batting line-up at Kingston. In a furious spell of pace and bounce, he took seven for 12 to bowl the West Indies out for 47, its lowest Test total.
England won that match by 10 wickets and went on to clinch its first series in the West Indies since 1968; the series had been decided before Brian Lara made 400 not out in the final Test. Harmison believes what England achieved against India in the first Test at Hyderabad is more remarkable.
“It is England’s greatest win overseas I have seen in isolation,” Harmison, who is doing radio commentary for listeners of talkSport back home, told The Hindu.
“England’s wins here in India in 2012 and in Australia in 2010-11 have been the best series victories. And this England side has a chance to emulate that. To play the way it did in Hyderabad I thought it was the greatest win I ever saw.”
Ollie Pope’s 196 in the second innings played a key role in that victory. “He was concise with his movements and his shot selection and execution were brilliant,” Harmison, who took 226 wickets from 63 Tests, said.
“And he has nailed down the No. 3 position, which has always been a problem for England.”
Harmison said the current series has produced some splendid cricket. “It has been a brilliant series,” he said.
“I think both sides have played positively and tried to win, and that has made for better cricket. India will be favourite in its own backyard but England has given it something to think about.”
As a former quick, Harmison said he enjoyed watching some high quality pace bowling in the series by Jasprit Bumrah and James Anderson. “Bumrah’s spell in the first innings here was unbelievable,” he said. “I think he is the best fast bowler in the world across formats at this moment of time. That one hour in Hyderabad, in which he got (Joe) Root and (Ben) Duckett out, I thought it was as good a spell of fast bowling I have seen in a long, long time. His skill was brilliant.”
He said people would not have expected a seamer to take five wickets but spin to be dominant.
“We got to watch Bumrah and Anderson, who at 41, is the greatest fast bowler the world has ever seen,” he said. “It was a joy to watch them bowl.”