SA’s spin wizard bowls fans over

Harmer’s hot with Protea Fire – snares one fine maiden too.

A nervous Simon Harmer hoped against hopes that when the national anthem was played at Newlands he would not burst into tears.

Because cry he did when heard that he had been called up to play for South Africa in a T20 match against the West Indies in Cape Town.

It’s little surprise that the likable off-spinner shed tears in a Jeffrey’s Bay supermarket earlier this month, on receiving the call from convener of selectors, Andrew Hudson – hearing the news – he’s a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve.

The type of youngster girls’ would like to take home to mum. Rushing in a little late for an interview at trendy Richmond Hill eatery, Vovo Telo, Harmer apologises profusely but still takes the time to greet a young woman, later allowing her mother to snap a photograph of her daughter and the cricketer, who is fast becoming a household name.

For a young man who is steadily making his way up the ranks, he Harmer  is remarkably down to earth and happy to speak about cricket, his love life and the people he holds dear to his heart – his family and a group of friends, known This group, known as the TK11 crew, a group of young men he holidayed with in the Transkei in 2011. It’s in honour of the tight-knit group of friends, who he fishes and golfs with, that he wears a number 11 on his back when playing cricket.

“It’s a dedication in their honour. They are my supporters and in that way I always have them with me,” he says.

Harmer says he can regularly be found with his group of friends either, “cooking my legendary potjie” or “fishing, drinking a beer and shooting the breeze”. “I love spending time with the boys,” he says. But the boys might have to take a little bit of a back seat for a while as 25-year-old Harmer has fallen hard for hard for well-known Bay equestrian, Jade Hooke, who he has been dating “officially” for the past month.

It’s clear he is crazy about the pretty blonde who is currently in the United Kingdom working hard to secure a spot in the 2016 Olympic equestrian squad.
Harmer smiles when talking fondly about the time she spent in Cape Town with him earlier this week.

“It was very special. She has been amazing and so supportive. We have officially been together for a month. We met in September and got on like a house on fire.
“We went and watched the Nedbank Challenge together and have been joined at the hip ever since,” he says grinning.

And while it might be a little early in the new relationship to bandy the “love” word around, Harmer makes no bones about his passion for Port Elizabeth.

“I’m in love with Port Elizabeth. At this stage in my life I can’t see myself living anywhere else. St George’s is special, especially with the band when they are in full swing.” I get goose-bumps just speaking about it. Port Elizabeth has been good to me.” and the PE public are very supportive,” he says.

Two of Harmers biggest supporters, mum Barbara and dad, Jock, moved to the Bay three years ago in 2011 and live in Walmer, as does their son. Harmer’s cocker spaniel Spencer, is looked after by mum and dad, and the spinner pops in regularly to visit. It’s at his parents house that Harmer’s cocker spaniel, Spencer, lives and he visits the three regularly.

“It’s good to be able to pop in and have coffee with them almost every day. When I’m on tour and need anything they are there,” he says.

Port Elizabeth, and his parents, might however have to wave goodbye to Harmer in the near future – for a little while at least – as he is keen to play either club or county cricket in the United Kingdom. And now that he has been capped the dream of playing county cricket is that much closer.

“You have to have been capped for your country before you can play county cricket. It’s a requirement for a work visa,” says Harmer.

It would be a bittersweet move for the youngster, whose career has moved forward in leaps and bounds, since he first arrived in the city in from his hometown of Pretoria to study law and play cricket at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

“It was the right move. If I had been in Pretoria I would be working and lost in the system. “There were more opportunities here. It’s been slow progress but sitting here now it has been worth the hiccups along the way.”
Now that he has broken into the test arena, Harmer still dreams of playing limited overs cricket for South Africa.

The bowler has a deep respect for the Proteas team, even deeper now that he has played with among them. , and says the manner in which they support and nurture each other is truly special.
“Whether you get a duck or 100, they care. That whole Protea Fire things is about nurturing one another, looking after your brother next to you.

“I’ve trained with them before and they were very welcoming but when you are in the squad they make you feel like you are home,” he says.

– Angela Daniels


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