DateLine: 8th December 2005
With bald pate, long sideburns and dobbly seam bowling, Chris Harris superficially resembles many a weekend cricketer. However, with 250 ODI appearances behind him, superb fielding ability, a First-class batting average nearer 50 than 40 and a burning desire to play in his fifth World Cup, Harris is anything but an ordinary man. Thereís little doubt that his pigeon holing as a limited-overs specialist has limited the chances at Test level that his batting alone deserves, although in 23 Tests it is surprising that he barely averages 20 with the bat. It is less surprising that his bowling is more suited to the shorter game, as itís slow speed (medium pace barely seems accurate, except maybe for his quicker ball), and ability to wobble the ball means batsmen have to be mightily strong or mightily good timers of the ball to hit boundaries off him. Harris is best played as a spinner who can drift the ball into the batsman significantly, with a leg roller being one of his most frequently bowled deliveries. An ODI economy rate of just 4.28 (in an era of heavy bats, pinch hitters, flat pitches and 250 being an average score) shows just how much control Harris has over his craft.
Sanath Jayasuriya once took 30 off one of his overs (including 24 off the first four deliveries), although that was a rare battering for the New Zealander. Harris has played limited-overs (but not First-class) cricket for English counties Derbyshire and Gloucestershire, although they may have fielded him in the longer form of the game if they realised that he averaged a staggering 63.48 with the bat for Canterbury (the state he has loyally served since his debut in 1989/90). A torn rotator cuff against Australia in December 2004 (incurred after some typically whole hearted fielding) led some to question whether it was the end of the road for Harris at the advanced age of 35. If it had been, he would have bowed out heroically, as he came out to effectively bat with one hand at no.11 (the pain and immobility being such that he had to be helped to pad up) in a vain effort to help the Kiwis defeat their antipodean rivals. However, a recent 4-0 hammering in a limited-overs series for New Zealand against South Africa (while Harris was putting in strong performances in Sri Lanka with the Kiwiís A Team) means that the places are still available which would fulfil his dream of that fifth World Cup.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)