Harmer looking forward to Day/Night clash


Simon Harmer heads into match against Middlesex and the second highest wicket taker in the Division and is fresh from his 14-wicket haul against Warwickshire. Another week, another game, and the next test is the first day-night Specsavers County Championship match with its twilight zones and pink balls.

“It really is uncharted territory,” says Harmer ahead of Middlesex’s arrival in Chelmsford for a fixture that starts at 2pm and is scheduled to finish at 9pm.

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 for 128 in the match.

“I don’t really know too much about the pink balls,” says the 28 year old, “but 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 says: “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. He says: “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, Head 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. The left-arm quick arrives for his debut with the county 14 points clear in Division One, and looking to underline credentials against reigning champions Middlesex.

“There is a lot of cricket to be played this season,” says 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.”