Harris targets next step
James Harris is delighted to be in South Africa with the England Performance Programme, but it is the prospect of being involved in another tour that truly excites the Glamorgan seamer.
Following a three-week training programme in the UK, Harris arrived in Potchefstroom this week with the rest of the EPP’s fast bowlers and a selection of senior players.
The 21-year-old Welshman is pleased to have been given the opportunity to develop his game further, having already represented England Lions on numerous occasions.
Yet while he would understandably welcome the chance to play for the Lions again when they head to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka this winter, he admits his main aim is to secure a spot in the full England squad, after seeing a host of fellow youngsters come through the ranks in recent years.
Harris told ecb.co.uk: “I’m looking forward to going out and spending some time away this winter, and in an ideal world I’ll get a call to pop off somewhere else (England take on Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the new year).
“I have come up through the system, I’ve done most of the age group stuff and then followed it up that way, so I’ve been around quite a bit and been on tours with some of the boys who have made it, even more so now with (Stuart) Meaker, Scotty Borthwick, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler.
“It’s something I’ve seen those guys do and something I am trying to follow and emulate. Hopefully in the not too distant future, if I can impress enough I will get a chance.”
Harris takes heart from the success of Yorkshire batsman Bairstow, who contributed a match-winning innings of 41 not out from 21 balls on his one-day international debut in September at Cardiff, having been called up as injury cover just 24 hours prior to the game.
Bairstow, a member of the EPP squad for a second straight winter, was subsequently named in England’s tour party for the reverse one-day series on the sub-continent and has been tipped to enjoy a long and successful international career.
“It just shows how close guys (on the EPP) are,” added Harris. “You can fly straight in so quickly and make an impact. It is nice to think all the boys are that close and it’s really a driving factor in trying to push on further.”
Although he will not turn 22 until next May, Harris can hardly be labelled inexperienced.
He already boasts 211 wickets in 59 first-class appearances and his importance to Glamorgan was underlined recently when he received a Denis Compton award - given to the most promising player at each county - for the fifth year in succession.
Asked to comment on his development as a bowler so far, Harris replied: “I just think I’m getting more consistent and I’m getting a little bit quicker all the time, which is obviously handy.
“I’m never going to be an express 95mph bowler, but if I can get up to 85, 86 and be accurate with some skills as well, hopefully I’ll be a pretty dangerous bloke to face.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the strength stuff, getting physically stronger and fitter, which is obviously necessary as a bowler. I think that’s played a huge part with avoiding injury. I know I’ve had a couple of niggles in the last couple of years, but that’s been down to bowling an extreme amount of overs.
“All I’m trying to do is continue to improve, which is what I’ve done so far, and obviously if I keep doing it I’ll be knocking on the door (for international selection).”
Should Harris graduate to the full England ranks, he would follow in the footsteps of fellow Morriston-born seamer Simon Jones, who rejoined Glamorgan in October on a two-year deal.
“I caught the last bit of Simon when he was at Glamorgan and I’m obviously chuffed he’s coming back,” said Harris of the 2005 Ashes-winner.
“It’s perfect. He’s a guy who has been there and done it, and someone who I can have a chat to pretty much every day that I’m around. It’s going to be great.
“I’ll talk to him about what worked for him, how he got to where he did and hopefully try and emulate some of that.”