2019: A Memorable Year for Simon Harmer


Simon Harmer has become the latest Essex cricketer to be named as one of the Five Cricketers of the Year by Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack.

The 31-year-old proved an instrumental force in the triumphant double-winning 2019 campaign.

He ended the calendar year taking 124 wickets across all competitions, including those in his native South Africa. It was 83 of those victims that came in what was to prove a scintillating red-ball campaign for the phenomenal off-spinner, who has an extended deal with the county that ties him through until the end of the 2022 season.

In the four-day game last season, he took 5-wickets or more in an innings on 10 occasions that twice progressed to 10-wicket hauls. They proved to be a crucial part of the Essex success story with the player named as Championship Player of the Year by the Cricket Writers’ Club.

Born in Pretoria, Harmer enjoys a ‘Kolpak’ status with the county and has quickly reached ‘hero status’ with the Essex faithful since joining in 2017, when his 72 wickets were an integral component to the Club’s first Championship title for 25 years.

The phenomenal Harmer goes about his work tormenting and deceiving batsmen with his clever flight variations whilst able to give the ball a prodigious tweak thanks to his large hands.

Whenever Harmer is thrown the ball, the buzz of expectation in the crowd rises, and ‘Harmy’ seldom disappoints. No bowler in the world has taken more first-class wickets in the last three years than Essex’s adopted son and his current tally of first-class wickets now stands at 608 from 145 matches.

Those statistics give rightful suggestion that he can rightly be considered as the world’s leading off-spinner – he has taken 212 wickets @ 20.25 in three Championship seasons – and with such weight of success to his name, it would be hard to argue against that description.

What is beyond dispute is that the dominant force is a proven and true quality exponent of the art.

Last year, he also took on the responsibility of leading the Eagles in the Vitality Blast competition and he carried off the additional trust by stealing the limelight with 7 wickets across two matches on Finals Day. This included 4 for 19 against Derbyshire in the semi-final, before producing a competition winning unbeaten 18 from 7 balls to vanquish holders Worcestershire. These were the best Finals Day bowling figures to date and it earned his side a maiden T20 title.

He won his five Test caps for South Africa in 2015 but was then by-passed for the next season and concerns over the selection policy persuaded him to pursue pastures new and take the ‘Kolpak’ route into County Cricket and a contract with Essex.

It has proved a success story and now highlighted by the coveted accolade of being chosen as one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year.

Simon Harmer becomes the 26th Essex player to join the prestigious list of names.

The most recent winners from the county were Jamie Porter (2018), Sir Alastair Cook (2012) and Nasser Hussain (2003).

Harmer also becomes the latest South African to be named since Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis in 2014.