Such hails Harmer as county cricket’s spin king – hoping he gets international chance
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Peter Such believes Simon Harmer’s position in the rankings of world-class spinners can only be properly gauged if and when he returns to the international stage.
Such, Harmer’s predecessor in the off-spin department for Essex some two decades and more removed, said: “He’s the best spin bowler in county cricket, head and shoulders.
“But it’s difficult to judge him in terms of world cricket until he plays in it, and I don’t know how that’s going to happen.
“He has all the attributes to succeed in international cricket, but sadly he hasn’t had the opportunity to play international cricket for a sustained period.
“For me, the best spinners in world cricket are the likes of Ashwin and [Nathan] Lyon because they are out there actually doing the business. Sadly, for whatever reasons, Simon’s not able to do that.”
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Harmer played five times for South Africa in 2015 before it became apparent that further opportunities would not be forthcoming and he decided to throw in his lot with Essex on a Kolpak contract. Since then he has taken 270 wickets in three seasons for the county across all formats, including 217 in first-class games.
Such, who made 11 Test appearances for England during his dozen seasons with Essex through the 1990s, is a voice worth listening to after a further decade until last November as the ECB’s lead spin bowling coach.
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Of Harmer, he added: “He is a very fine bowler who’s in his prime right now. He does what all quality spin bowlers do – he is the glue that holds the bowling attack together. He provides the threat and also offers the control. That’s what you need from your spin bowler.
“You go back through time to when Graeme Swann was in his pomp doing all those wonderful things for England. He was the person who held it all together; he allowed them to play three seam bowlers and a spinner and have a four-man attack as opposed to five.
“That was because he could do a quality job in terms of controlling the game in the first innings and bowling teams out in the second. That’s what Simon does.
“He’s got an incredible record for Essex. The thing I see in him is, he gets the ball up and down at a strong pace, so he gets a good drop on the ball. As a consequence of being tall he gets additional bounce. He provides some really good attacking options.”
Such, now 56, has worked with Essex’s other off-spinner, Dan Lawrence, as he progressed along the England pathway.
He said: “I suppose the first thing you see when you look at Dan is that he hasn’t got what people refer to as a classical action. But he’s got an action that works for him, and that’s fine.
“What I like about Dan is that he’s tall, he can get bounce and he has this unusual action which means he can be difficult to pick up and get used to.
“Thus far he’s been most effective in one-day and T20 cricket, probably because he hasn’t had the opportunities in the longer format because of Simon. As a top-quality batter he applies that batting mentality to his bowling; he reads the play well.
“He thinks to himself, ‘What’s going to happen here? If I was batting I would be looking for this to happen’. That knowledge helps him to compete.”
Such, who will become a match referee once the domestic season starts, this week launched his own Spin Academy (www.thespinacademy.co,uk) to help nurture and develop spin-bowling talent.
He added: “I’ve been passionate about spin bowling nearly all my life. Like everyone at about the age of 12 I wanted to be a fast bowler. But there was one net session at school when I had a sore back and I bowled a few spinners, and the sports master said, ‘Right, Peter, that’s looking really good, you’re bowling spin next game’.
“And it all grew from there. I love coaching. Coaching to me is the closest I can get to the buzz I got from playing.”