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Essex spinner collects £10,000 cash prize.
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Simon Harmer has had a season to remember. Shortly after Essex were confirmed as the 2019 Specsavers County Championship title winners, the South African off-spinner claimed the £10,000 cash prize given to the PCA’s Overall Most Valuable Player.
The 2019 season saw the Overall MVP lead change hands multiple times. Liam Dawson made early inroads before missing much of the domestic summer after being called up to England’s successful ICC Cricket World Cup squad.
Somerset duo Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton then swapped the lead twice, before Jeetan Patel established himself at the summit of the table, at one stage leading for a 37-day period. However, a late surge from Harmer saw him take the lead just at the right time on 18 September, and he has not relinquished it since.
Harmer eventually accumulated a massive 609 MVP points, surpassing Joe Denly’s haul of 579 last year and Samit Patel’s 535 in 2017. Appearing in 34 fixtures across all formats this season, he averaged an incredible 17.91 points-per-game, well clear of second placed Kyle Abbott’s 15.06 and third placed Patel’s 15.25.
The 30-year-old’s red ball form has been instrumental to his side’s second County Championship triumph in the space of three seasons. He has taken 83 wickets at 18.28 runs apiece to help the Chelmsford-based side secure the trophy at the expense of Somerset.
Harmer is the man for every occasion, and was also instrumental in his side’s maiden Vitality Blast win. On a turning pitch at Edgbaston, the finger spinner took 7-35 across the semi-final and final of the competition – the best ever combined figures returned on the day.
With the Eagles wobbling at 129-6 in pursuit of 149 in the final against Worcestershire, Harmer then came to the crease to smash 18 off just seven balls – including a boundary from the final delivery – to secure the first half of a memorable 2019 double for Essex.
"Finals Day did well in terms of the MVP and it is nice to get personal accolades, especially when you win trophies."
On top of his double team honours with Essex and his Overall MVP victory, Harmer could be on the way to further success as it was revealed he has been nominated for the NatWest PCA Players’ Player of the Year.
The Reg Hayter Cup is the one of three major prizes in English cricket that is voted for by the professionals themselves, the others being the PCA Young Player of the Year and the NatWest Women’s Player of the Summer.
Harmer is nominated alongside Gloucestershire’s Ryan Higgins, Warwickshire’s Dom Sibley and England all-rounder Ben Stokes, with the winner collecting the prize at the 50th annual NatWest PCA Awards ceremony on Wednesday 2 October.
Harmer picked up 463 of his 609 MVP points in four-day cricket this season. That makes him statistically the best performer in the County Championship, well clear of Darren Stevens with 381 points in second.
His 83 wickets consisted of 10 five-wicket hauls – a remarkable figure for any player, let alone a right-arm orthodox off-spinner in English conditions. He also recorded a competition high two ten-wicket match hauls, took a wicket every 43 balls and bowled 175 maidens – more than any player except for Warwickshire skipper Patel.
Harmer was also one of the standout players in the Vitality Blast this year, captaining the Eagles to their first ever victory in the competition. His aforementioned Finals Day heroics contributed to 115 MVP points in the 20-over competition, with 80 coming for his bowling, 12 for his fielding, eight for being the winning captain on eight occasions and seven for his batting.
The 30-year-old was well aware the difference his Finals Day heroics were in the final MVP Rankings and shortly after picking up the Championship trophy, he explained his delight at picking up the £10,000 cheque.
“It isn’t something you set out to do but things have gone my way at Chelmsford and I have picked up wickets the whole season and I think Finals Day did well in terms of the MVP. It’s nice to get personal accolades, especially when you win trophies.
“It has been a long season and I am so chuffed for everybody in that group for the two trophies which we’ve managed to put in the cabinet.”
The MVP formula was designed by the PCA in conjunction with the players to identify the match-winning performers in any given fixture, and recognises the importance of the genuine all-rounder.
Bonus points are awarded for, as in Harmer’s case, captaining the winning side, scoring a high proportion of your team’s runs and taking top order wickets, amongst other important disciplines.
Harmer has bowled outstandingly all year, but finished second in terms of total bowling MVP points accumulated, two behind his compatriot Abbott. It is his all-round contribution that has proved to be the difference between him and Abbott, and he is therefore a deserved winner of the 2019 Overall MVP crown.
View the PCA’s Overall MVP Rankings here.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest MVP news by following the @pcaMVP on Twitter.