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July 20, 2012
Kent 456-9 (Stevens 123, Nash 114, Jones 69*, Harris 5-118) v Glamorgan
They are not the most flattering figures of his fledgling career, by any means, but a five-for in the only innings so far of this match means that James Harris is well and truly back in business.
Still just 22, the fast bowler from Swansea has been earning rave reviews ever since he made his first-class debut for Glamorgan as a 16-year-old and became the county's youngest player to take a wicket at that level. England U-19s and Lions selection followed in due course and there is no doubt he remains firmly on the selectors' radar, even though the competition for places in the international pace department may never have been stronger. So far as this season goes, though, Harris is just pleased to be fit and firing again.
A groin injury that required surgery forced him to not only miss last winter's Lions tours but also to sit out the first half of this year's Championship campaign. And when he did return, progress - unsurprisingly - was steady rather than spectacular with three wickets in three innings, against Leicestershire and Northants.
All that has changed here, though, with an analysis of 5 for 118 from 33 overs. Four of those strikes came on the first day and this morning he deservedly bowled Mark Davies with a fast and straight delivery to make sure he finished with a handful for the eighth time in his first-class career.
The immediate aim for Harris is to keep on taking wickets for Glamorgan but he admits to having his eyes on representative honours, despite being a late-starter this campaign. "There are a couple of Lions games coming up which I would love to be involved in and then there are tours this winter," he said. "It was so frustrating missing out last winter."
Frustration was the name of the game on Friday with only 38 of a possible 96 overs being bowled. During that time Kent added another 146 runs for the loss of five more wickets - but with rain arriving in mid-afternoon and then returning just when a re-start seemed imminent, a draw is now the likeliest result.
Whatever happens, Kent have bagged a full haul of batting points for the first time this season. They did so by passing 400 with three overs to spare and despite losing first-day century-makers Brendan Nash and Darren Stevens within the opening half an hour. Huw Waters, handicapped by illness yesterday, did the damage with the second new-ball. He also had an appeal against Geraint Jones, for a catch behind, turned down when the former England keeper had scored just 3.
Jones went on to make an unbeaten 69, from 96 balls, enabling Kent to shrug off their early losses. And importantly, he received good support from tail-enders Matt Coles and Davies. Even when Davies fell to Harris, the fun continued with No. 11 Charlie Shreck driving spinner Dean Cosker for a straight six - his first maximum in first-class cricket after 119 innings without clearing the rope.
If that blow was something of a shock to the system, the arrival of rain most certainly was not. The forecast is good for the second half of this match but Kent's bowlers will need to go some to earn the promotion hopefuls a victory from here.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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