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