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Simon Harmer delighted to join "prestigious" list of Wisden winners

The South African was named one of the five cricketers of the year.

Simon Harmer is delighted to be flying the flag for the county game as one of Wisden's cricketers of the year, taking his place in a tradition he has followed since his childhood in Pretoria.

Essex spinner Harmer has been named alongside Jofra Archer, Pat Cummins, Marnus Labuschagne and Ellyse Perry in the almanack's annual list of star performers from the previous year and is the only one of the quintet to be recognised for his achievements at domestic level.

The 31-year-old has experienced life on the international scene, winning five Test caps for South Africa in 2015, but has spent the past three seasons on a Kolpak deal at Chelmsford, turning in the what has been the best cricket of his career.

In 2019 he topped the first-class wicket charts in England, taking 83 scalps as Essex reclaimed the Specsavers County Championship title, and captained the club to Twenty20 success in the Vitality Blast.

It was a best-in-class return from Harmer and more that fully warranted recognition from an institution he has been invested in for almost two decades.

"I think the biggest thing is the tradition that goes with this award. I'm extremely happy to know I'll be joining the ranks along with some truly incredible cricketers," he told the PA news agency.

"I can still remember as a 12 or 13 year old reading who the Wisden cricketers of the year were, it's a prestigious list that's been going for well over a hundred years.

"I'm genuinely proud of what we've achieved as a team and what I have achieved personally as well. My team-mate Jamie Porter won in 2018, so I could see with my own eyes what it was all about and how much it meant to him.

"The level of county cricket is really, really high compared to other competitions around the world and I think it shows in terms of other people who have won the award over the years. I wouldn't say I'm carrying everybody this year but it's a good advertisement for county cricket and good for the domestic game and the players it's producing."

Harmer already has plans for the limited collectors' edition of the almanack that he will receive for his achievement, even if he is still working on the particulars.

"The plan is for my brother and I to buy a beach house at some stage when we can afford it. We're going to have a bar there where all the cricket memorabilia from my career will be displayed," he said.

"I'm quite a private person, when somebody walks into my house I don't want them to know I play cricket, but I'm looking forward to the day I can put up my memorabilia and when I do I can guarantee the leatherbound Wisden will be one of the centrepieces."

Simon Harmer celebrates with the Division One trophy
Simon Harmer celebrates with the Division One trophy (Steven Paston/PA)

Harmer will have to wait alongside everyone else for his chance to build on last year's stellar efforts, with the coronavirus crisis thrusting the entire season into doubt.

There will be no action before May 28, with a near certainty of further delays. He has already been keeping himself busy in the best kind of way, hitting the phones to call Essex members with messages of support and joining five other team-mates, led by club captain Tom Westley, in preparing over 1,000 hot meals for NHS staff in the local area.

"It was very humbling to be able to provide some sort of support for our NHS workers and for those vulnerable people in our community who need our support right now," he said.

"It's impossible not to feel the gravity of the situation when you see and hear about the long shifts that doctors and nurses are undertaking to saves lives.

"They are heroes in my eyes, and I know everyone around the country feels the same, so it was an absolutely privilege to be able to do my small bit to help out."

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Olympic medal table header
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JapanJapan114520
United StatesUnited States1010929
ChinaChina105823
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78419
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Great BritainGreat Britain56415
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events


ROWING
· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

CYCLING
· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

DIVING
· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

EQUESTRIAN
· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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