• Harmer: Zero security in South Africa

    Former Proteas spinner Simon Harmer has expressed ambition to play for England.

    Harmer played five Tests in 2015 before pursuing a career with Essex in county cricket. He was recently retained by the Jozi Stars for the 2019 edition of the Mzansi Super League.

    ‘I signed a six-month, £30,000 deal with Essex to come over and it was basically a shop window, whereas other players signed long-term deals for a lot more money,’ Harmer told ESPNcricinfo.

    ‘For me, I wasn’t offered a contract back in South Africa – if things didn’t go according to plan at Essex, I’d have gone back to South Africa unemployed, and was probably looking at life after cricket.

    ‘It wasn’t about the money, it was about opportunity. There’s zero security in South Africa – that’s the reason players sign Kolpak deals, because of the security and the opportunity.

    ‘Yes, the money is part and parcel of it because the rand is weak against sterling, but I can guarantee you now, for 95% of the guys that have signed Kolpak deals, it’s about opportunity and security.’

    The 30-year-old Harmer took more first-class wickets than any other bowler in 2018. Playing for Essex and the Warriors, Harmer took 106 wickets in 24 matches to beat second-placed Mohammad Abbas, third-placed Duanne Olivier and fourth-placed Morne Morkel.

    He is currently the leading wicket-taker in the 2019 County Championship Division One, with 65 in 11 matches. Fellow Kolpak-contracted cricketer Kyle Abbott is in third position with 46 in 10.

    ‘In myself, I know that I’m the best off-spinner in the world, but how can I say that when I haven’t bowled at international level? Seven out of 14 games I’m bowling at Chelmsford, where the wicket turns. I don’t go to Australia or New Zealand or India where wickets might not turn, or turn more, so it’s difficult to judge,’ added Harmer.

    The prolific off-spinner trained with England prior to the second Test at Lord’s during the ongoing Ashes series. The hosts’ decision to drop all-rounder Moeen Ali left a lack of off-spin in the squad. Harmer was included to effectively mimic the threat posed by Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

    ‘I know that I’m good enough to play for England, but I think that there would be a lot of difficult decisions to make if my name was to be in the hat,’ he concluded.

    ‘But I do want to play international cricket. I understand that it’s a long shot, and it’s maybe a little bit unrealistic, but I feel like you’ve got to have goals and dreams. I’m going to keep pushing myself. If it happens and things work out … happy days.’

    Photo: Getty Images

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