Simon Harmer gave credit to English county Essex after spinning South Africa into a dominant position on the second day of the first Test against Bangladesh at Kingsmead on Friday.
Harmer took all four wickets for 42 runs as Bangladesh slumped to 98-4 at the close in reply to the Proteas’ 367 all out.
He also made 38* to enable South Africa’s last two wickets to add 69 runs.
“Essex gave me the platform to find myself again,” said Harmer as he revealed how he had regained his confidence after it seemed he had no future in the South African team.
The 32-year-old played in five Tests before being dropped after a tour of India in November 2015.
South Africa tried fellow off-spinner Dane Piedt and leg-spinner Imran Tahir before settling on left-armer Keshav Maharaj as their No 1 spinner.
“I had a lot of self-doubt,” said Harmer, who was not even sure of getting another South African franchise contract before signing a Kolpak deal with Essex in 2017, making him ineligible for the Proteas until the Kolpak system ended in 2020.
“Essex gave me the opportunity and the platform to rediscover what made me successful, leading me to becoming a match-winner for them and being comfortable with that,” he said.
In between Test appearances, Harmer took 491 first-class wickets – 308 of them for Essex, with his bowling playing a major role in them winning the county championship twice.
Harmer made the first breakthrough in the last over before tea when he bowled Shadman Islam for nine with the third ball of his second over.
Bowling in tandem with Maharaj, who conceded only 24 runs in 19 overs, Harmer ended a 55-run stand between Mahmudul Hasan and Najmul Hossain by bowling Najmul for 38 with a superb delivery that drifted in and spun past the bat.
Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque fell without scoring in Harmer’s next over, caught off bat and pad by a diving Keegan Petersen at silly point.
The experienced Mushfiqur Rahim was Harmer’s fourth victim, gloving a ball down the leg side to wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne.
“It’s been a very good day. I don’t think I could have scripted it better,” said Harmer.
© Agence France-Presse