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Who needs Harmison when a slab of marble will do?

MANCHESTER, England: If Pakistan see off strike bowler Steve Harmison on their way to a series win in England, they may attribute their success to a slab of marble-topped granite.

The touring side have been using the slab, bought at a London store by coach Bob Woolmer at the start of the trip, in the nets at Old Trafford to prepare their batsmen for Harmison's steepling bounce.

"Javed Miandad, I think, introduced it and it's really interesting how the ball pings off it," Woolmer told a news conference on the eve of the second test on Wednesday.

He said balls were thrown by the coaching staff to get batsmen used to rearing deliveries, adding: "If you don't have players of pace in your bowling lineup to test our batsmen, you have to test them some other way during practice.

"The players enjoy using it, I don't know why because it makes a thud. But I think it's a really good coaching tool, one for the tool box. If the opposition have a Brett Lee or a Harmison who gets steep bounce you have to try and replicate that."

One man in the touring party, however, may be less keen on the innovative training aid, namely Pakistan's coach driver.

While the players were limbering up in the middle on Wednesday, it was left to him, as usual, to lug the slab from the coach to the indoor training school in a wheelbarrow.



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