Harrison hungry for more
Jamie Harrison is determined to kick on this summer, after fulfilling a childhood ambition in 2012 by making his Durham debut.
The 22-year-old left-arm seamer was born in St Helens, but moved to the north east at the age of five and quickly developed a passion for cricket.
Having vowed at a young age that he would one day represent Durham, Harrison achieved his goal last year, making five senior appearances before being sidelined with a stress fracture in his right shin. Yesterday he returned to bowling for the first time in seven and a half months.
For a player who grew up idolising many of the current squad at the Emirates Durham ICG, May's maiden call-up represented a dream come true.
However, Harrison has been forced to put up with some light-hearted ribbing from his team-mates, given the circumstances that preceded his elevation to first-team action.
“It’s quite embarrassing. I obviously joke with the lads, but I’ve got signature bats at home with some of their names on,” Harrison told ecb.co.uk.
“I still get the mick taken out of me now, but it’s unreal. I grew up watching these blokes on telly and then all of a sudden they are sat next to you in the changing rooms.”
On his first LV= County Championship appearance against Somerset, Harrison was handed the new ball ahead of Liam Plunkett and Steve Harmison, two bowlers he had watched from the stands on numerous occasions.
“The emotions were running high, but as soon as you step on that pitch you’ve just got to let it go and concentrate on what you’ve always done and what’s got you there,” he added.
“At the time I felt like I’d done everything I could to get myself into that position. I knew I had left no door unopened, so I had confidence in knowing I’d done everything right off the pitch.
“It’s something I’ve worked towards ever since I started playing cricket and went to the Riverside. It’s something I’ve always dreamed about and it kind of put everything into perspective - the long nights running on the road in the dark and the early nights, going to bed as a young ‘un and not staying up. It was definitely worth it.”
Harrison returned 4-112 in the first innings at Taunton and went on to claim another eight wickets for Durham before his season was ended prematurely.
However, he insists there remains plenty of room for improvement, with greater consistency and accuracy his primary concern.
“I’d say I’m a patient and consistent bowler,” Harrison explained. “I’m someone who predominantly would settle in, bowl maidens and create pressure and maybe wickets for the guy at the other end.
“When I had my introduction to first-class cricket my consistency wasn’t at first-class level, but luckily enough my wicket-taking ability, swinging it back into the right-hander, got me out of trouble.
“Although you can't expect too much, I set high standards for myself, so I know I can do better.”
Harrison was certainly not short of role models as he made the progression into professional cricket.
He admired the likes of Wasim Akram and Ryan Sidebottom growing up, and also received coaching from Simon Brown, Durham’s record wicket-taker and another hugely effective left-arm paceman.
“I’m blessed in a way being left-arm and there’s a lot of room for specialists I’ve been told, so if I can get my legs working hopefully I will be alright,” Harrison added.
“Growing up I had a lot of coaching off Chubby (Brown); he did a lot in the north of England, so I was privileged enough to get coaching off him.
“People said I was going to be the next Simon Brown last year, but if I can get half as many wickets and be half as good a bowler as he was I’ll be happy.”