James Harris is one of the big home-grown transfers of the winter months. The all-rounder has arrived at Middlesex having been part of England's Twenty20 squad on both winter tours, and he received his first formal call-up for the Champions Trophy almost as soon as he set foot inside Lord's. It's definitely a move in the right direction.
Harris is only 23, and yet he has plied his trade on the county circuit with Glamorgan for seven campaigns and already feels like a seasoned pro. When he told the Welsh side he wanted to leave, 12 other counties showed an interest. "It was hugely flattering, the outpouring of people wanting to have a chat, wanting me to play for their club," he said.
But it was the chance to play at headquarters, allied to the coaching of former England seamers Angus Fraser and Richard Johnson, which swung it in Middlesex's favour. "To work day in, day out with them was a huge draw. We've got the nucleus of a young, up and coming team, and I'm hopeful this group of boys can stay together for a number of years."
It was a wrench to leave Glamorgan but Middlesex's strength in the bowling department will take the pressure off. "There were possibly times at Glamorgan where I might have been overbowled when I should have been rested more. We've got enough high-quality bowlers here to keep us all fresh," added the seamer.
If he may find that the team revolves less around him, the pressure is now definitely on in terms of proving his potential. Harris had only ever plied his trade in the Second Division of the County Championship. "To be honest, I asked the selectors, Geoff Miller and James Whitaker, whether they wanted me to play First Division cricket to progress my career." The answer was no but evidently his ambitions outstrip those of his former employers.
Now he is already looking forward to an encounter with the other London county, Surrey, in a T20 clash at The Oval. "That would be a good game to get an early three-for," he said. "Who have they got? There's Graeme Smith, Ponting, Pietersen… Solanki, flipping heck. Are you ready to come and play in the big boys' league or not, eh?"
And according to England's Steven Finn, the arrival of Harris demonstrates the ambition of Middlesex too. "It shows the pedigree of the club that a player of his calibre wanted to come here," said Finn.
Now as summer comes around, he can look forward to taking tea in the garden behind the pavilion that bears his name.Reuse content