Stephen James Harmison, MBE, DL (born 23 October 1978) is a former English first-class cricketer, who played all formats of the game. Primarily a fast bowler, he represented England in 63 Tests, 58 ODIs, and 2 T20s. He also played county cricket for Durham and Yorkshire.
He made his Test and ODI debut for England in 2002, and achieved modest success in these early stages of his career, showing promise as a capable strike bowler for England. This was borne out during the tour of the West Indies in 2003–04, where he produced some of his finest bowling and went on to become the highest wicker-taker in the series. He followed it up by playing a vital role in England's victory in the 2005 Ashes series, and was selected as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 2005. At the time, he was regarded as one of the world's best fast bowlers. Harmison's performance following the 2005 Ashes victory was inconsistent, and he announced his retirement from ODIs in 2006. His problems were compounded by niggling fitness worries and intense competition for a place in the English team. Although he came out of ODI retirement in 2008, his place in the squad was never permanent, ultimately leading to his being dropped since 2009. His last Test for England was the final test of the 2009 Ashes series, and he played his last ODI against West Indies in the same year. He formally announced his retirement from the game in October 2013.
Harmison's success during his prime was attributed to his ability to extract bounce from any pitch – mainly due to his height being 6'4" – and his ability to swing the ball while maintaining speeds of over 90 mph. However, his lack of consistency often led to lethal spells being mixed up with equally bad bowling (a notable example is the opening ball of the 2006 Ashes, which he bowled straight to second slip, resulting in a wide that media commentators dubbed as "the worst ball in history"). Nevertheless, his ability with the ball was never questioned; in 2007, former Australian cricketer Shane Warne named Harmison in his list of 50 greatest cricketers, stating: "on his day, he is one of the most awkward bowlers in the world".
After retiring from cricket, Harimson managed his hometown football club, Ashington, between 2015 and 2017.
Harmison was born and brought up in Ashington, Northumberland, and is the eldest of 3 brothers and 1 sister (the youngest, Ben Harmison, who latterly played first-class cricket for Kent, and formerly played for Harmison's side, Durham..)
Harmison currently lives in Ashington with his wife Hayley and their three daughters Emily, Abbie and Isabel, and their son, Charlie. A family man by nature, Harmison admitted to homesickness and missing his family each time the England team went on tour; in an interview with The Independent in 2005, he stated: