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South African Harmer plugs Essex's spin-bowling gap

Simon Harmer has been chosen to answer a glaring Essex weakness Associated Press

Essex have signed Simon Harmer, the South Africa offspinner, on a one-year deal as they prepare for life in the first division of the Championship.

Harmer will qualify as a Kolpak registration and will help address a glaring Essex weakness. They won the second division title largely without a specialist spinner - Ashar Zaidi played only two matches - even in a season when changed toss regulations encouraged spinners back into the domestic game.

Harmer made his Test debut for South Africa in January 2015 and has five Test caps, with 20 wickets at an average of 29.40 with best match figures of 7 for 153. He will be available in all competitions next season.

Chris Silverwood, Essex's coach, said: "Simon is an exciting cricketer who has played at the top level of the game for his country. He will give us another high quality spin option in all formats."

Harmer said: "Playing county cricket has always been a boyhood dream of mine and to have the opportunity to fulfil that dream at Essex is very surreal.

"I am really looking forward to adding as much value as I possibly can to the team and making sure our time in the Specsavers County Championship Division One is a long one."

Harmer has had a satisfying month. He was also appointed as Warriors' captain in the Sunfoil Series when Colin Ingram stood down after knee surgery.

Harmer is the second South African to win a non-overseas contract in county cricket in successive days, following Colin Ackermann's signing for Leicestershire.