Middlesex bowler aims to push Anderson for England slot

England Lions' James Harris

England Lions' James Harris - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

James Harris has England’s number one seamer James Anderson in his sights as he prepares to resume battle for a spot in the senior set-up.

Harris has been consistently hampered by injuries over the last couple of years and missed large chunks of his debut season at Middlesex due to a side strain.

But the 23-year-old is part of the England Performance Programme squad that departs for Australia on Thursday and plans to push Anderson – who will spearhead the senior side’s defence of the Ashes in the coming weeks – as hard as he can.

“To get into the England team is very tricky at the best of times, especially in the seam bowling department,” said Harris.

“Graham [Onions] can’t even get himself on the tour after two unreal summers in county cricket, so that just shows you.

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“There would appear to be a place or two for guys like Jimmy Anderson that are not the big tall guys. And that’s where I may find my route in.

“I obviously can’t say I’m anywhere near as good a bowler as Jimmy at the moment but that’s where my targets lie.

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“That’s the similar skill set that I am hopefully going to bring to the party when I get a bit more experienced.

“The way the attack is shaping up at the moment, there would appear to be one slot for that type of bowler. I need to do all I can to keep pushing him, to make sure he is still bowling as well as ever.

“And then if a spot becomes open when he finishes playing, I need to do everything to make sure I’m the next cab off the rank to fill his boots – albeit they are pretty big boots to fill.”

Harris has been earmarked for international honours for some time, having gained his first England Lions call-up as far back as 2009, and was also included in the senior squad for last year’s one-day series against New Zealand.

One advantage the Middlesex paceman may have is that he is no slouch with the bat – and he is determined to keep developing that extra string to his bow.

“I take loads of confidence from getting called up, especially this time when I was not convinced that I was going to be picked,” added Harris.

“But England are showing a lot more consistency with people. They are trying to identify the right personnel to be involved for long periods of time and that’s the mould I would like to put myself in.

“It’s great that they have shown a bit of faith in me and now it’s up to me to pay that back.

“In a funny way it might be the runs rather than the wickets I get in the next couple of years that might be more important.

“Bowling is obviously the main skill that is going to get me picked but nowadays you can’t really afford to have a weakness in any part of your game.

“Number seven is where I want to bat for the county. The more runs I can score the more it might increase my chances, so if I can push that on, then it will stand me in good stead.”

n Follow the England Performance Programme squad and their progress this winter at www.ecb.co.uk/epp

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