County news September 24, 2012

Harris decides on Middlesex

Middlesex have beaten off significant competition from strong rivals to complete the signing of James Harris on a three-year contract from Glamorgan.

Harris, a 22-year-old seamer of considerable potential and a more than useful lower-order batsman, had been the target of several other Test-hosting clubs in Division One of the Championship. Nottinghamshire described him as their No. 1 target, while Yorkshire were also keen to persuade him to join them. Glamorgan also say they made Harris a "substantial contract offer to retain his services".

His arrival underlines Middlesex's ambition. They finished third in the top division in 2012 and, with a largely young and close-knit squad, must be considered title contenders for the next few seasons.

"I'm thrilled to be joining Middlesex and being part of such a young, talented squad," Harris said. "I'm really looking forward to playing my part in bringing team success and trophies back to Lord's. The major factor in my decision to choose Middlesex was the coaching set-up and in particular the chance to learn as much as I can from people such as Angus Fraser, Richard Scott and Richard Johnson"

Injury limited Harris to only four Championship games in 2012, but he claimed six wickets in an innings when he represented England Lions against Australia A at Edgbaston in August and won a place in the England Performance Programme Squad that will travel to India in November.

His loss is a grave disappointment to Glamorgan. Harris developed through the club's youth system and became the youngest man to represent the club's second XI in 2005, when he was aged just 14 years and 353 days, going on to make his first-class debut aged just 16 in 2007. He remains the youngest man to claim a seven-wicket haul in the Championship, at 17, and became the quickest player to reach 100 and 200 first-class wickets for Glamorgan.

Harris feels, however, that his best chance of fulfilling his ambition required him to move. Glamorgan finished sixth in Division Two of the Championship in 2012 while history would suggest that players at the club struggle to win recognition from England selectors.

Middlesex's director of cricket, Angus Fraser, said: "Everyone at Middlesex is absolutely thrilled that James has chosen to join the club. There were many other counties trying to secure his services and the fact he has chosen Middlesex highlights the progress we are making as a club.

"James will add skill and quality to our attack. His record to date is excellent and he will only get better. I am sure the pitches at Lord's will suit his bowling more than those in Cardiff. He can bat too, which is extremely useful. We are all looking forward to working with James and we hope his presence will help Middlesex push even harder for domestic trophies over the coming years."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adam on September 25, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    Middlesex? That's a shocker from Harris.

  • Jeff on September 25, 2012, 7:57 GMT

    I agree with some of the other posts that another seam bowler was probably not the most urgent need for Middx, but just the thought of seeing us line up at a damp and overcast Lords next April with an attack of Finn, Roland-Jones, Harris & Murtagh has me really excited.

  • Trevor on September 24, 2012, 22:59 GMT a long standing and suffering Middlesex fan I must be missing something here. What we need is a strong captain and a top quality batsman - and I mean top quality. Without these we are never going to win the championship again, and we should be there or thereabouts virtually every season given our size.

  • Mark on September 24, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    @Harvey, yes, Patel has impressed, but he is probably 2-3 seasons away from being ready to carry an attack at this level. Ollie Rayner is, by his own admission, at the moment more a batsman who bowls and will probably be looking over his shoulder nervously at Ravi Patel's progress. The situation cries out for someone like Shaun Udal or Murali Karthik in the squad to mentor them and bring them on. It's a pity that Middlesex missed signing James Tredwell, who could have helped develop them and provided a pretty good fron line spin option. Other options like Dawid Malan or Joe Denley who could have been developed seem to have retreated into the distance now.

  • Samuel on September 24, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Would loved Somerset to have tried to sign him, but not hosting internationals severely hampers our chances of being able to pull in marquee players when compared to the Test match counties. Brooks is still available though and because of his injury I feel he's fallen back in the England pecking order, so maybe he'd be a better signing for us anyway! Have to agree with Harvey when he says Middlesex might not be seeing much of him; I get the feeling England have been desperate to get him involved for a while, only for serious injuries to hold him back. He should bowl well at Lord's though, although you'd have thought he & TRJ would want to bowl at the same end; nipping it down the slope!

  • Mark on September 24, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    Good signing, but what Middlesex lack is an attacking spinner. What will they do if next summer is hot and dry? They have got away with it for the last two seasons, but sooner or later they will face turners that offer nothing to their pace attack, however good.

  • Harvey on September 24, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    Title contenders, eh? Let's hope you don't prove to be as wide of the mark as those who wrote off Middlesex as relegation candidates at the start of the season and were treating Surrey as practically champions-elect! I think Middlesex do have a genuine chance, and signing James Harris certainly increases it. Facing that attack on an early season pitch will not be fun for the opposition. Having said that, international and England Lions call-ups are likely to deplete the seam attack more than was the case this season, so the batsmen really are going to have to up their game. Too often last season the tail enders were left to score the bulk of the runs. Still, they're young enough to improve, and things are also looking up in the spin department now, with what should be tough competition for a place between Ollie Rayner and Ravi Patel. I'm really looking forward to next season.

  • Sanjay on September 24, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    Nottinghamshire look a little desperate wanting to sign any player who shows an interest in moving. Last year, they snapped up Harry Gurney (and James Taylor) from Leics. Had they signed James Harris, surely it would have left one or two of their already impressive seam bowlers a little nervous. And I'm accounting for the fact that Andre Adams may well be coming to the end of his career.

  • Sanjay on September 24, 2012, 12:24 GMT

    Middlesex would have beaten Warwicks at Edgbaston had it not been for rain, Roland-Jones was very impressive in that game. Paired with Harris, they're defn going to be title contenders. I also thought Durham recovered superbly, the 1st half of 2012 was just a blip, they will surely be back in the hunt. 2013 looks like a promising season but here's hoping the Bears retain the title and go one better in the limited overs format!

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