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Harris delighted to be key man for Middlesex after frustrating 2017

PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 July 2018

James Harris of Middlesex (pic: John Walton/PA)

James Harris of Middlesex (pic: John Walton/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

This time last year, it looked as if James Harris's days as a Middlesex player were numbered.

Struggling to hold down a regular place in any format and approaching the end of his contract at Lord’s, Harris had been loaned to Kent at the start of the 2017 campaign.

But, having forced his way back into the Seaxes’ County Championship side and agreed a contract extension, the 28-year-old seamer is now one of the first names on their four-day teamsheet.

Harris, who heads Middlesex’s wicket-taking list with 31 so far this season, maintains he never contemplated leaving the county he joined from Glamorgan almost six years ago.

“I always wanted to stay at Middlesex,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time at Canterbury – Kent’s a great club and it’s a great part of the world.

“Originally the move was borne out of the fact I wasn’t going to play in the Middlesex first XI, so I started off with a bit of disappointment, but I never thought too far down the line.

“I was constantly chatting with (managing director of cricket) Angus Fraser and, although I didn’t come into the team that much last year, I always thought Middlesex was going to be my home.

“I’m happy I signed and stayed on and also to have been able to repay a bit of that faith by being in decent form so far this summer.

“That figure (31 wickets) is quite pleasing when we’re only halfway through the Championship season – it’s coming out really nicely and I think it’s got better and better since that first spell in our game at Leicester.”

As well as collecting more wickets than any other bowler in Division Two this season bar Kent’s Matt Henry and Ben Raine of Leicestershire, Harris has also flourished with the bat.

He averages a healthy 35 and has hit two half-centuries – one of which steered Middlesex over the line with a thrilling one-wicket victory in last month’s above-mentioned match at Grace Road.

“It was lovely to see the boys home at Leicester,” Harris recalled. “I hit a huge number of balls in the winter and I think I was earmarked as having the chance to bat at seven, which I did in the first couple of games.

“Since then the structure of the team has changed slightly, so I’ve been going in at eight, but it was always about hopefully being able to do a job at seven if I was required to.

“I’ve always been able to bat, but my overall record in my first-class career isn’t as high as I’d like it to be and I’m working all the time to try and push it up.”

Harris and his Middlesex team-mates will be back in Specsavers County Championship action when they face Division Two front-runners Warwickshire at Lord’s, starting on Sunday – after Friday’s Vitality Blast match at Hampshire, when England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan is available to return.

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