Simon Harmer inventions and reinventions

There is something strange about Simon Harmer. He is on the other end of a video call and appears the same as always. nevertheless, not. He isn’t sporting sunglasses, to start. Another is that he’s wearing an Essex shirt. For yet another, mid-April has arrived or more than two months before to the England series‘ announcement of South Africa’s test team.

After a training session the day before the start of a game versus Warwickshire, Harmer is speaking from a hotel room in Birmingham. He should thus be dressed in an Essex shirt. But the fact that it’s not a South Africa jersey is what makes this photo incorrect.

How frequently the subconscious story shifts. Since commencing his 185-match career with Essex in April 2017, Harmer has only appeared three times for South Africa, including the Old Trafford Test. We should thus appreciate him far more as an Essex player than as a South African player. But for many South Africans, that is emotionally impossible.

Particularly not after his triumphant comeback to the international stage in the Test series he played against Bangladesh in March and April. With 16 wickets in the two games, Keshav Maharaj was the star, although Simon Harmer wasn’t far behind with three. No other South African bowler took more than four.

Allan Donald, Dale Steyn, or Kagiso Rabada are images evoked more powerfully and viscerally by Harmer’s prickly presence. As he sprints towards the crease and explodes into a flurry of electric intensity, aggression flares from his ragged blond fringe. He bowls as though he could actually damage someone rather than merely disregard them. He couldn’t be more South African, no matter how hard he tried. Or, to put it another way, less. In a nation that is teeming with some of the finest speed merchants, who does the off-spinner think he is emulating when he bowls like a fast bowler?

The South African quicks, including Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn, Shaun Pollock, and Allan Donald, were role models for me, I didn’t realise I would never bowl fast until I was about halfway through high school, when I was approximately 15. I was getting into teams because of my hitting, but I thought I could contribute more. The experiment with bowling spin got underway at that point.”

When facing fast bowlers, you can either bowl swiftly or you can’t. In that a spinner cannot be trained to turn the ball, they are quite comparable. Either they possess it or they do not. Control can be taught, but rapid acceleration cannot. With regard to my positioning at the crease, etc., that quick bowling foundation really helped me with my spin bowling. It was a logical progression from the bowling spin I utilised when I was younger.