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Off-spinner speaks after winning with 55% of public vote.
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Simon Harmer has been voted the May PCA Player of the Month after a month which saw him claim career best figures of 9-80 in the LV= Insurance County Championship.
The Essex off-spinner claimed 55% of the public vote to win the award ahead of Craig Overton (31%), Ryan Higgins (13%) and Kyle Abbott (1%).
Prior to the public vote, the four nominees for last month’s award were identified via the PCA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Rankings, which were relaunched ahead of the 2021 domestic season, with Harmer earning 91 MVP points at an average of 22.8 points-per-game across his four appearances during May.
Harmer is the second player to have won the award during this domestic season, following in the footsteps of Derbyshire’s Matt Critchley who claimed the award with 61% of the vote in April.
With Essex sitting top of County Championship Group One going into the ninth round of fixtures this week, Harmer reflected on what has been a strong start to the season for his side: “If you’d given us our current position at the start of the season, we probably would’ve taken it.
“As a whole we’ve found a way, and we just need to make sure that when we play at home we can cash in and get the win, which hopefully we can do against Notts this week.
“In cricket, when it’s your day you need to cash in, and though we’d maybe like to have more wins under our belt by now, we’re still in a good position going into the Blast fixtures.
“There’s still a lot of cricket to be played, but we’re happy with where we are at the moment.”
The clear highlight of Harmer’s campaign so far was his remarkable career best 9-80 against Derbyshire at Chelmsford, a ground where he has regularly tormented batters for four years now.
During that innings, which saw Derbyshire all out for 146 in response to Essex’s 412-3 declared, Harmer removed every batter except for opener Billy Godleman on his way to his best ever figures in professional cricket.
“Playing at home always helps! History suggests that I enjoy bowling at Chelmsford, and you’ve just got to cash in when it’s your day, because there will be games when you don’t pick up any wickets. When it is turning and you’ve got a team up against the ropes, you’ve got to make the best of it.
“You’ve also got to take the ups and downs and stay pretty level. It’s a cliche, but I was probably more happy with the win than the individual performance. When you’re putting in good performances and your team is winning, it’s always that much sweeter.
“The last couple of weeks have been pretty tough, but when it’s your day you’ve got to make sure that you go pretty big.”
"I’ve always felt that the MVP is a fair reflection of how your season’s gone on a personal scale. It’s a good way to reflect at the end of the season on how your performances have been so I’d love to win it again.”
The last two Championship fixtures have seen the wickets dry up for Harmer, but the South African has chipped in with 47 not out and 40 not out against Durham and Warwickshire respectively. Batting, Harmer says, is an area where he’s constantly looking to improve.
“Batting is the bane of my existence, because I overthink it where with my bowling I’m a lot more comfortable and it feels a lot more natural.
“I’m always looking for ways to try and score runs and chip in down the order. Touch wood, but it feels like it’s coming together a bit more and I’ve done a lot of work with the batting coach down here at Essex, which looks like it’s starting to pay off.”
Moving forwards, Harmer insists that team success across all formats is the object of his focus, but the back-to-back Overall MVP nevertheless hopes to be claiming further individual accolades come the end of the season.
“Everyone’s looking forward to a change of scenery with the Vitality Blast, it’s been a tough start to the summer with nine Championship games on the bounce.
“The whole squad is really looking forward to a bit of white-ball cricket, and I love the challenge of T20 as an orthodox off-spinner. You really have to fight to bowl well and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“The MVP is not something I regularly look at, but if I’m up there at the end of the season, then happy days. I’ve always felt that the MVP is a fair reflection of how your season’s gone on a personal scale. It’s a good way to reflect at the end of the season on how your performances have been so I’d love to win it again.”
For more information on the brand-new MVP Rankings, contact the PCA’s Head of Communications Luke Reynolds at email@example.com or the PCA’s Communications Executive Peter Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.