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Simon Harmer has signed a long-term contract extension with Essex, committing himself to the club until the end of the 2026 season.
Harmer, the South African offspinner, joined Essex in 2017 as a Kolpak registration and has been their main overseas player since that legal loophole closed after the UK's departure from the European Union.
He has taken 308 first-class wickets for Essex since he signed, the most in England over the last five years and 48 more than his nearest rival, his team-mate Jamie Porter. He has also contributed in limited-overs cricket, notably in the T20 Blast in 2019 when he was player of the match in Essex's semi-final and final victories.
Essex failed to qualify for the six-team Division One of the County Championship last year but have strengthened over the winter with the signing of Matt Critchley from Derbyshire as a replacement for the retiring Ryan ten Doeschate, and a number of senior players - including Alastair Cook, Adam Wheater and Paul Walter - have signed contract extensions in recent weeks.
"The club gave me an opportunity in 2017 for which I will always be grateful," Harmer said. "The progress this team has made under Anthony McGrath is a major factor to signing. I'm determined to continue developing my game across all formats and look forward to contributing to further success, both on and off the field, over the next five years."
McGrath, the club's head coach, described Harmer as "an important leader" and said that his signing represented "a real signal of intent."
"Harmy has been an important part of our success in recent years and I'm delighted he's committed his long-term future to Essex," McGrath said. "The talent we have within this team is incredible and his match-winning skills will be instrumental for our plans to achieve further success in the future."