Sunday, 20 May 2007

Record breaking teenager outshines returning Ashes hero

Seventeen year old James Harris (below) must think that professional cricket is an easy game.

As he ponders his forthcoming AS level examinations at Gorseinon College near Swansea (that's right, he's a year away from A levels), the young right arm Glamorgan seamer may be wondering why he's bothering. A twelve wicket match haul against Gloucestershire in only his second county championship game has set the grapevine buzzing and sets the record for the youngest player to take ten wickets in a Championship match.

James Harris finds the outside edge again during a highly impressive display against Gloucestershire at Bristol.
Often bowling in partnership with Harris was returning Ashes hero, Simon Jones MBE. After toiling through 37 wicket less overs, he may have been tempted to ask Harris for some tips. In fairness to Jones, luck was not on his side as a series of hostile deliveries were either fended or edged safely.
As Glamorgan fruitlessly pressed for victory on the final day, captain David Hemp increasingly turned to Harris to break a partnership and the youngster, who has captained England for his age group, usually obliged. His approach to the wicket is reminiscent of Neil Foster, formerly of Essex and England, but his natural movement is through the air and away from the bat.
County dressing rooms will be discussing how batsmen have to learn to play him very late, which is easier said than done when a leg stump ball then passes your outside edge.

Simon Jones, bowling in the Championship for the first time since April 2006.

But what of Jones? Known as 'Horse' in the Glamorgan dressing room (I think it's due to his speed, but it may be more 'Carry On' than that!), 'SiJo' generated good pace once properly warmed up and during several hostile spells was genuinely unfortunate not to get a wicket.

That's the good news. Slightly more concerning is an ambling, stuttering run up during which he never really breaks into a full stride. Whether this is deliberate caution after such dreadful injuries, or a more concerted effort to get more control I don't know. What I do know is that he is someway off a Test recall, and I estimate that even the First test versus India may be a little optimistic.

Jones is now scheduled to miss the first of Glamorgan's three Championship games at Swansea, play the second, and then miss the third, all at the ECB's bequest of course. What is of interest is whether they see Jones as part of the One Day International plans. I've never viewed him as such. His limited overs record with Glamorgan is poor, but it may be a sensible way for England to ease him back into the International fold.
To conclude, let's go back to Harris. He is a talent. Glamorgan signed him on professional terms shortly after his sixteenth birthday, keen to ward off the attentions of Warwickshire amongst others. His future is bright for his county and hopefully for England - indeed Glamorgan may be struggling now but solid foundations are in place both on and off the field.
But for now it's back to the books for Harris. He misses Wednesday's game versus Middlesex due to examinations, a pity, as it's at St Helen's, Swansea, where friends and family could come to watch his progress.
There's plenty of time for cricket though. Remember the name.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Great piece, and what a performance from Harris.

Jones is starting slowly, and he clearly needs a lot of cricket. As with Trescothick, I would not rush him back - a couple of ODIs against India is the most I'm hoping for this season.