He was once renowned as being the fastest bowler in the world in cricketing circles, now Ashington born Stephen Harmison is hoping to leave the people of Wansbeck bowled over when he pitches a Northumberland XI, assembled between his brother James and himself, against a Newcastle United XI in a testimonial football match as part of his benefit year with Durham.
Harmison is hopeful that the public will come out in force to see stars of the future with the game to be staged at Ashington’s Woodhorn Lane on Thursday, October 10, with a 7pm kick-off.
Harmison said at the weekend: “It should be a good spectacle. I’m from Ashington and played football for the club before I signed for Durham as a professional cricketer.
“I’m hoping to bring the benefits of a group of players whom I have enjoyed training with and been around with – through my brother James – to Ashington.
“It will be a big stage and there should be a good crowd and we wanted to keep the prices exactly the same as what the fans would pay for a Colliers home match.”
The ‘Ashington Express’ has been working closely with James and has put together a squad which includes four cricketers.
“Scott Borthwick and Phil Mustard from Durham as well as my other brother Ben (Kent Cricket Club) and myself will fancy ourselves to be footballers on the night, but every player asked gave an almost instantaneous reply to confirm that they would be delighted to be involved.”
Two- time Ashes winner Harmison – who played cricket for England for nine seasons – trained with the Newcastle United squad for five or six years, which included a period during the reign of Sir Bobby Robson, and he is buoyed by the fact that Newcastle United have confirmed the game.
“I have close links with the club including John Carver and Peter Beardsley,” he said.
“Not many times now do Newcastle play pre-season games in England because they head abroad, so it will be great for the people of Ashington to see the future Newcastle stars.
“However, from a personal point of view, I’m over the moon that they have agreed to come.
“Peter Beardsley, who is a friend and who has a love for cricket, will play some part in the game whilst the Newcastle squad will not be known until nearer the time.”
Admission prices are £6 for adults and £1.50 for juniors.
The Harmison Northumberland squad is: Karl Dryden, Andrew Johnson, Glen Taylor, Scott Blandford (all Ashington), Sean McCafferty, James Harmison, Paul Watson (all Bedlington Terriers), Danny Patterson, Ben Richardson. Adam Foster, Gareth Bainbridge (North Shields), Rob Story (Team Northumbria), Paul Robinson (Darlington), Dean Holmes (Blyth Spartans), Scott Borthwick & Phil Mustard (Durham Cricket Club), Ben Harmison and Stephen Harmison.