Middlesex star Harris aims to recapture his youth and develop all-round game
James Harris admits his recent purple patch with the bat is not before time.
The Middlesex paceman struck 73 to help bail the tenants of Lord’s out of the mire in the first innings of their county clash with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on Sunday.
The landmark knock – his best for Middlesex – continued an upward curve in Harris’ batting fortunes in recent weeks, coming hot on the heels of his unbeaten 59 which helped salvage a draw with Worcestershire in another four-day clash at Uxbridge late last month.
For the Welsh-born 25-year-old, such form with the willow is a throwback to his teenage years, and the leading wicket taker in championship cricket this season is hopeful he can ease his way back into the all-rounder bracket.
“I really haven’t got enough runs since I turned professional, to be honest,” he said. “Growing up, I was always a genuine all-rounder up to about the age of 15 or 16, but when I went into adult cricket, my bowling took off and my batting never really caught up.
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“But I can definitely bat and do a job for the team and hopefully I can work my way up the order in the next few years.
“It’s invaluable if you’ve got an all-rounder who can bowl 20 overs a day and contribute with the bat at seven or eight as it balances teams up beautifully. So it’s something we’ll continue to work on.”
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Harris’ latest batting heroics were part of a century stand with Dawid Malan, who recorded a career-best unbeaten 182 on his return to action after injury.
He admits being able to play second fiddle to ‘a proper batsman’ at the other end suited his solid but unspectacular approach to run-making.
“It’s more my natural game to set up around a good defence than attacking flair,” he said. “However much I might want to bat like AB de Villiers, I haven’t got the talent for that! I’ve played some important innings and that’s the way I go about my batting, especially in four-day cricket, and it’s working quite well.”
As Harris’ career at Lord’s blossoms, an off-field stalwart called it quits as CEO Vinny Codrington announced his resignation with immediate effect.
The news came out of the blue on Friday, ending Codrington’s 18-year association with the county.
Yet, while the decision might have caught the rest of the cricket community on the hop, the man himself insists it is a move he has been debating for some time.
He said: “Over the past few years, I have become increasingly aware of my desire to seek a new challenge and now is a good time for me to make that move. “Once I had made that decision, I felt it was in the best interests of both parties for me to move on immediately, so I requested a release from my contract.
“Being the chief executive of a sporting organisation is emotionally draining in every sense. After 18 years, this does catch up with you and that is why I have been considering my position.
“I have had the most incredible time at Middlesex. It has been a privilege and an honour to have served this great club.
“I have lived the dream, and will always be grateful for the opportunity afforded me. I never thought I would be here for as long as I have, and am looking forward to a fresh challenge.”