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Ken Borland

Harmer returned with not much more than hope … now he’s in NZ

Posted on March 02, 2022 by Ken

Simon Harmer returned to South African cricket last year with not much more than hope that he would be able to make an international comeback too and be reunited with the precious green cap that was packed away in his debut Proteas kitbag in the Eastern Cape.

And now he is sitting in Christchurch, New Zealand, back in the Proteas camp for the first time since 2015. The prolific off-spinner had to go to some lengths to make sure the same cap he was given on his debut against the West Indies in Cape Town in January 2015 made the trip too.

“I’ve still got all my caps because my brother and I have a pact that we’ll have a beach-house together one day and all my memorabilia will be for the bar,” Harmer explained on Monday.

“My Test cap was in the bag I was given on my Proteas debut, but I was not sure it would ever see the light of day again. I had to get my mother-in-law to post it to Pretoria from Kenton-on-Sea.

“It was very nostalgic to see it again and it’s always something special when you get your new kit, all with the South African badge on it. I was like a kid on Christmas opening all the bags.

“I always aspired to play for South Africa, but being allowed to play cricket at home again, I was trying to keep my head down and focused on the Titans environment, while trying to get back into international cricket,” Harmer said.

The 32-year-old will probably still have to show the sort of patience that he is famous for with ball-in-hand because that long-awaited return to Test cricket is probably not going to happen on a Hagley Oval pitch that is seamer-friendly unless frontline spinner Keshav Maharaj is ruled out for some reason.

“The Hagley Oval is probably the greenest, quickest, best-bouncing pitch in New Zealand, so the chances of us playing two spinners are low,” Harmer admitted. “But I will just make sure that I am ready.

“I see myself as a supporting act to Kesh, who has done extremely well. So I will keep working hard, supporting the team and just trying to contribute however I can, whether that’s by playing good music in the changeroom, throwing balls or giving encouragement.

“I’m under no illusions, Victor Mpitsang [selection convenor] was transparent about how I fit into the whole structure, but I am here now and I will try and show what I’m about.

“I think I’ve matured a lot and I understand now what I need to do and how to go about things. When I first played for the Proteas I put so much pressure on myself, worrying what people thought and whether I was good enough. I’m a lot more comfortable in my skin now,” Harmer said.

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