England Lions star is seeking silverware at Middlesex
A place in the England side would be nice – but James Harris is also hoping his move to Middlesex can kick-start his trophy collection.
While the Swansea seamer is still only 22, he has already been on the county scene for six years and is in the frame for full England honours, having been named in their provisional squad for this summer’s ICC Champions Trophy.
But Harris is also eager to start picking up some silverware after quitting his home county Glamorgan to move to Lord’s and join a team that finished third in the County Championship last season.
“I decided I needed to leave, which was the first heart-wrenching decision to make, and then it was a case of where was the best place to go,” said Harris.
“Lord’s was one of the factors, so were people like [managing director of cricket] Angus Fraser and [bowling coach] Richard Johnson, and London was a bit of a draw as well.
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“The team finished third last year and there’s the nucleus of a young side that’ll hopefully stick together for a long time and be successful. When you put it all in the mix, I was really happy with the decision.
“Everybody has been fantastic – I can’t thank them enough for the way they’ve helped me fit in so far. The decision was based around what’s going to progress my career the most and fill my trophy cabinet as well.
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“That’s what you want to look back on – trophies and hopefully a lot of England caps as well. I felt Middlesex was the best opportunity to achieve that.
“What I’d look for is us to be involved come the last few weeks of every competition. It’s something I haven’t really had [at Glamorgan] – coming into the last month we were basically playing for nothing.
“If we went into the last few weeks of every competition with the chance to progress or win the title itself, that’d be a very successful season. We want to be consistent and there’s no reason why we can’t win something.”
Middlesex’s success last season, their first back in the top flight after their Division Two title triumph of 2011, was largely based around a strong and varied pace attack.
Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh both topped the 60-wicket mark in first-class cricket, while England paceman Steven Finn, all-rounder Gareth Berg and former West Indies bowler Corey Collymore also featured in the side.
And Harris, who also rejected overtures from Nottinghamshire to move to Lord’s, is confident that the competition for places will benefit his career in the long-term.
“Having a good attack and having bowlers you can rotate, to keep everyone fresh, is very important,” said Harris. “I felt that meant I hopefully wouldn’t be over-bowled in some situations, as I have been in the past.
“There’s no way, as a seam bowler, that you can play every game of the season. It’s just too demanding to bowl a 40-over County Championship game and then have to play a one-day game the next day.
“You can’t do that all through a season and then year in, year out. You still want to be top dog when it comes to the big games, but people’s bodies just can’t cope with the stresses.”
Harris is hopeful that a similar philosophy will help him to break through into the national team in the near future, having been a regular member of the England Lions squad since 2009.
He was also part of the ECB’s performance programme squad in India last winter and earned a call-up as cover for England’s recent one-day series in New Zealand.
“I can’t control whether I get picked for the England team, but I can control whether I do well for Middlesex by putting in some performances,” Harris added. “Hopefully that’ll push my case further.
“There will be opportunities this summer because Finny, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad won’t be able to play in every game and it’s about doing what you can to get your name to the top of the list should a place become available, or the selectors feel they need to rest one of those guys.
“Everything I’ve done since I was 14 has been geared towards trying to get a cap and it’d be great to do it sooner rather than later. But if it doesn’t come for a few years, I’ll be happy as long as I’m progressing.”
Harris went wicketless on his first day as a Middlesex player, with Roland-Jones recording career-best figures of 6-63 as Nottinghamshire were bowled out for 278 in the sides’ County Championship clash at Trent Bridge. Middlesex will resume their reply today on 12-0.