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Harmer happy to be back at ‘home from home’ hoping to stay one step ahead of pack

PUBLISHED: 07:30 13 April 2018

Simon Harmer warms up before play at Fenner's (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Simon Harmer warms up before play at Fenner's (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Simon Harmer wants to help Essex stay one step ahead of the opposition as they start out on the defence of their county championship title.

Simon Harmer congratulates Jamie Porter on his five-wicket haul against Somerset (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)Simon Harmer congratulates Jamie Porter on his five-wicket haul against Somerset (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

South African spinner Harmer proved an inspired signing last season, with successive 14-wicket match hauls on his way to a total of 72 scalps, at 19.19 apiece.

But he knows both he, and Essex, are no longer surprise packages and face a real fight to hold onto their crown.

Speaking at a special reception hosted by the chairman of Essex County Council, Harmer said: “It’s really good to be back. I’ve missed it and I regard it as my home away from home and it’s good to be back with the boys.

“It was a phenomenal effort from everybody involved. It’s put a marker down. Everybody said we can’t do it, we’ll get relegated, and everybody’s saying we can’t do it again. It’s just proving to ourselves that we are good enough and put a strong title defence on this coming season.

Essex's Tom Westley, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Simon Harmer at a special reception at County Hall (pic Paul Starr)Essex's Tom Westley, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Simon Harmer at a special reception at County Hall (pic Paul Starr)

“The second season is always the toughest so I’ve got my work cut out and I’ve been trying to work really hard toward that and hopefully I can do it again.

“You’ve got to try and stay one step ahead. You can’t rest on your laurels. It’s trying to find one per cent here and there, technically, mentally, physically.

“Just try and add to my game and repertoire. I don’t think you can ever stop learning, so I’ll try and add value where I can.”

The 29-year-old from Pretoria was certainly great value for Essex as they marched to the title and admits 2017 will go down as a very special year.

“Last season exceeded my expectations. More so from the club side, the players and the way I was welcomed into the group,” he added.

“The club made me feel at home and so did the players in the changing room, that was the most overwhelming thing for me. To win the four-day competition in the fashion we did blew my expectations out of the water.

“Coming over, I’d never played county cricket, I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to make an impression, show the committee and coach and repay them for the faith shown in me. It was pretty surreal to do as well as I did.”

As for which of his team-mates impressed him most, two stood out for Harmer, from either end of the age and career scale.

He said: “I was quite surprised by Daniel Lawrence and the maturity he showed in his game. The way he constructs his innings, he can be very explosive, but he showed in the first game against Lancashire, batting out the day.

“Alastair Cook took me back quite a bit. To get to know him and see how humble he is and how grounded and normal he is. Especially judging by some of the players back home of less stature that aren’t as nicer guys as he is.”

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