Essex's Harmer sets sights on Middlesex

PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 June 2017

Simon Harmer raises the ball to the crowd after taking 14 wickets in Essex's match against Warwickshire (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Simon Harmer raises the ball to the crowd after taking 14 wickets in Essex's match against Warwickshire (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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In-form spinner excited by pink ball challenge

Essex’s Simon Harmer is not expecting lightning to strike for a second time against Middlesex after a perfect storm whipped up an incredible 14-wicket haul for him against Warwickshire.

Another week, another game, but the wind has blown in a new set of conditions, and more specifically the first day-night Specsavers County Championship match with its twilight zones and pink balls.

“It really is uncharted territory,” said Harmer ahead of Middlesex’s arrival in Chelmsford for a fixture that starts at 2pm today and isn’t scheduled to finish until 9pm on each of the next four nights.

The South African off-spinner doesn’t anticipate bowling as many as the 66 overs he sent down last week and certainly not challenging his career-best figures of 8-36, or 14-128 in the match.

“I don’t really know too much about the pink balls,” added the 28-year-old.

“Talking to some of the Essex boys, they say that the pink Dukes stay really hard and swing for 80 overs. So if it’s going to swing, the seamers are going to play a bigger part in the game as opposed to a spinner.”

Harmer got his hands on a pink ball when Essex trained at dusk on Saturday evening, and announced: “It feels a bit lighter. I don’t know if that’s just a mental thing. I’m sure it’s still 156 grams like the red Dukes.

“Other than that the seam is much the same. I don’t know how long it’s going to last as opposed to the red ball.

“It’s going to be the twilight zone when it’s going to be interesting to see how easy it is to pick out. Other than that I don’t see the pink ball being an issue.”

In fact, Harmer is excited by the night-day innovation, which is being trialled this week to help England players acclimatise before the pink-ball Test at Edgbaston against the West Indies in August.

He said: “There is a lot of pink-ball cricket being introduced internationally and it is important that players are exposed to it at county level, so if they do make the step-up it is not anything different.”

With an orthodox red ball in his hand, Harmer was almost unplayable for the Warwickshire batsmen, adding: “It was one of those wickets you hope to get to bowl on, and even more importantly, to bowl second on.

“It allowed their bowlers to create some footmarks and rough it up a bit, so by the time I got on it was quite worn. It was a spinner’s paradise!

“I gave Stuart [Kerrison, the groundsman] a beer afterwards and a pat on the shoulder. ‘Thanks for looking after me!’ It wasn’t an easy wicket to bat on, especially with the ball turning as much as it did. Our seamers did a very good job of keeping things tight at one end, which allowed me to be more aggressive and attack from the other.

“Sometimes you have days like that when everything clicks and goes your way. When it does, you need to cash in.”

With Mohammad Amir fresh from Pakistan’s Champions Trophy success, and raring to go, Essex have gained “an exciting edge to our attack’, according to Harmer.

Left-arm quick Amir arrives for his debut with the county 14 points clear in Division One and looking to underline their credentials against reigning champions Middlesex.

“There is a lot of cricket to be played this season,” added Harmer. “But we’re top of the table and that’s where we want to stay. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we’d be silly not to think we’re in with a shout.”

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