Former England fast bowler Harmison announces retirement

England's new bowling coach Donald speaks to bowler Harmison during practice session at Old Trafford in Manchester

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England's new bowling coach Allan Donald (L) speaks to bowler Stephen Harmison during a practice session …

(Reuters) - Former England fast bowler Stephen Harmison announced his retirement from cricket on Sunday.

The 34-year-old, who made his England debut in 2002, took 226 wickets in 63 tests, including a memorable 7 for 12 against the West Indies in Jamaica in 2004 which helped him to briefly earn top spot in the test bowler rankings.

Harmison did not play a first-class game for his English county side Durham this season as they won the championship.

"I did not want to take the shine off such a magnificent season for Durham by announcing my retirement before it had finished," Harmison said on the club website.

"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," added Harmison who took 17 wickets in five tests when England won the Ashes for the first time in 18 years in 2005.

Harmison, however, struggled with homesickness on tour and in the 2006-07 Ashes in Australia his reverse in form was summed up when he opened with a wide which went straight to second slip, setting the tone for a hugely forgettable 5-0 series defeat.

"As my playing career has come to an end my focus is very much on the future," Harmison said.

"I'll be taking my coaching qualifications in the winter so I can use my experiences to help support and nurture future talent."

(Reporting by Mark Young; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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