James Alexander Russell Harris
May 16, 1990, Morriston, Swansea, Glamorgan
Right hand bat
Right arm medium fast
Pontarddulais Comprehensive; Gorseinon College
James Harris was an early developer as a cricketer. An energetic seamer and useful lower-order batsman, he was the youngest person to appear for Glamorgan 2nd XI when he turned out in 2005 at the age of 14 years and 353 days, and a month later he was the youngest to appear for Wales Minor Counties, taking 3 for 48 against Netherlands. In 2006 he signed a contract with Glamorgan despite being just 15, and in the same year captained England Under-16s. He made his debut aged just 16 and a few weeks later became the first 17-year-old to take a seven wicket haul in the Championship. He was rewarded for his promising debut season with a trip to India in late 2007 as part of the England Performance Programme squad, and was part of the England squad for the Under-19 World Cup in 2008.
Harris's early promise led to an England Lions call-up to face the Australians in 2009 and in the same season he managed 41 Championship wickets. Harris was a revelation the following season, storming to 63 wickets, including two five-wicket hauls. That earned him a call-up for the England Lions tour to West Indies where he claimed 14 wickets at 30.35 and in 2011 he again performed well in county cricket with 47 wickets at 27.42 but his season was ended early by a groin injury - something Harris ruefully suggested was probably brought on by sending down over 1,000 first-class overs from April 2010 to September 2011.
When Harris reported to the England Performance Programme in Loughborough that winter he had not recovered. A period of rehab in Potchefstroom did not suffice either and Harris needed a double hernia operation and two injections into his groin. He eventually returned to action in May 2012. He was immediately back on tour with the Performance Programme in India and earned a call up to the full England squad for the T20 series, though he was not selected.
The end of the 2012 season saw Harris leave his home county of Glamorgan, for whom he took 204 first-class wickets, to join Middlesex. Having been courted by 11 counties, Harris was regarded as one of the most exciting fast-bowling talents in England. But, over the next two years he badly lost his way. He focused on gaining extra pace, after consulting the England management over how to become an international-quality bowler. But he lost confidence in his action and his previous hallmark - consistency - went astray. By 2014, his seven Championship appearances for Middlesex yielded only 12 wickets at 55.50 apiece, and he even had a spell on loan at Glamorgan to try and regain confidence.
That was remedied in excellent fashion in 2015 as he returned to first principles, pronouncing as much with 9 for 34 against Durham at Lord's in May. It was eight years on from his feats as a 17-year-old. At 25 he still had time on his side as far as England was concerned, but he had abandoned attempts to be the England prototype quick. "I tried to be better, it didn't work, simple as that," he said. "I had to bite the bullet and go back to what I knew and what made me successful in the first place." The result was 69 Division One wickets at 25.74 as he spearheaded Middlesex's surge to the runners-up spot, their highest placed County Championship finish since they were pipped to the title by Warwickshire two decades earlier.
The following season brought Middlesex the Championship title, but Harris played in less than half the games and began the 2017 season on loan to Kent as his career continued upon its stop-start way. An ambition to score more runs was on the agneda in 2018 with Middlesex's batting coach Dave Houghton suggesting he was as technically sound as anyone in the club. He had a wonderful all-round season: his 61 Championship wickets put him among the best in the country and he averaged 33 with the bat, but still that elusive maiden county hundred would not come.
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