Simon Harmer: 400 Club


With his dismissal of Alex Davies, caught by Nick Browne at short leg, in Warwickshire’s second innings at The Cloud County Ground on Tuesday, Simon Harmer officially registered his 400th first-class wicket in Essex colours.

It was the latest moment to savour for the 34-year-old, who is now into his seventh season in Chelmsford, and in honour of the occasion, this is a look at the numbers behind Harmer’s huge haul of Essex scalps.

Harmer’s two bunnies

There are two batters who have the unfortunate claim to fame of having been dismissed the most times in county cricket by Harmer, with both allowing the spinner to get the better of them six times.

All-rounder Keith Barker, a man often renowned for his ability to dig in and shepherd a tail, has fallen to Harmer while playing for two teams, having been removed twice while at Warwickshire and four times for Hampshire.

Warwickshire v Essex - LV= Insurance County Championship

Similarly, a move between teams was unable to improve the fortunes of Barker’s fellow all-rounder, Ryan Higgins, against Harmer, as the South African dismissed him three times at each of Gloucestershire and Middlesex.

Four men – Gareth Berg, Nick Gubbins, Rikki Clarke, and Rilee Rossouw – have all been removed five times, while there is a list of 14 against each of whom Harmer has succeeded four times, including eight Test-capped players.

Wickets against Warwickshire

As borne out by his repeated dismissals of Barker and Clarke, who each spent several years at Warwickshire, as well as the milestone wicket of Davies, it is the Bears against whom Harmer has had the most success for Essex.

He has taken 52 of his first-class county wickets against the West Midlands side, picking up match figures of 14/128 in his first outing against them, which included a second-innings haul of 8/36 as Essex won by an innings.

At the time, those figures were a record for Chelmsford and just the second 14-wicket haul ever seen at the ground, with Harmer marking himself out as the first Essex bowler to achieve that feat.

Warwickshire v Essex - Specsavers County Championship: Division One

Not content with that, he has since gone on to repeat the trick three times, in one of which he even bettered it by taking 15/207 against Hampshire in 2022.

The Rose and Crown come in third in the list of teams who Harmer has taken the most wickets against, with 43, behind Surrey’s 51 and just ahead of the 42 Somerset batters he has dismissed.

Success in the Second City

Naturally, the ground on which Harmer has taken the most wickets is of course Chelmsford, where he has racked up 258 in the years he has spent as an Essex player.

However, and perhaps not surprisingly given his record against Warwickshire, his most successful away venue in England is Edgbaston, where he has taken 20 first-class wickets.

In 2017, his first scalp in Birmingham was England all-rounder Chris Woakes, pinned lbw for 22, as part of an eight-wicket match haul in the game that saw Essex all-but-confirm their first Championship title since 1992.

In a near-mirror image of his levels of success against different teams, the Oval, where he has taken 17 scalps, comes in second on that list, just ahead of his 16 at Taunton.

Trent Bridge and Old Trafford, with the latter being the location for Harmer’s one Test wicket in England – that of Stuart Broad last summer – are tied on 15, while he has 12 dismissals to his name at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s.

Catches win matches… but LBWs help too

The majority of Harmer’s wickets have been registered as catches, with 226 falling to him in this way, ahead of his 93 LBW dismissals and the 62 times he has bowled someone.

Higgins has found himself caught off Harmer five times, the most of any batter, while the four times that the South African has removed Matt Milnes have all come as catches.

Harmer’s maiden first-class wicket in Essex colours, in a MCCU warm-up match ahead of the 2017 season against Durham University, was a catch, while Steven Davies of Somerset was the first man to fall to him via being bowled.

Compatriot Dean Elgar, in that same match away in Taunton, was his first LBW victim, while the remaining 22 of his wickets were stumpings, and the first to fall to him in that way was John Simpson of Middlesex.

Somerset v Essex - Specsavers County Championship Division One: Day Two

Chef’s safe hands

Not including substitutes, there have been 26 Essex fielders who have shared those more than 200 catches off Harmer’s bowling, though there is one who stands clear of the field for the number he has taken on his own.

From his usual position in the slips, Alastair Cook has held on to 31 edges, with the dismissal of Ian Westwood, in a match against Warwickshire – obviously – being the first time the Harmer-Cook combo was seen.

Cook is ahead of the 25 catches that Ryan ten Doeschate took off Harmer’s bowling, with his first opportunity to take a grab off the South African coming in the second innings of that same match, seeing off Sam Hain.

Adam Wheater is narrowly beaten into third in this list, with 24, while Harmer has occasionally proven the old adage that you don’t drop them off your own bowling, claiming seven catches off his deliveries himself.