Simon Harmer perfect fit for Sunrisers after ‘Bulldog’ exit

New Sunrisers Eastern Cape spinner Simon Harmer

FILE - New Sunrisers Eastern Cape spinner Simon Harmer. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire/BackpagePix

Published Jan 10, 2024


Gqeberha is a city known for many things, be it strong winds, the beautiful shoreline in the famous suburb of Summerstrand and the Boardwalk that overlooks the beach.

Most importantly, Gqeberha is known for its unique culture of friendliness, of loving and caring people, earning it the moniker of the Friendly City.

From the townships of Zwide and Motherwell, to the city centre where St George’s Park Cricket Stadium overlooks the entire city, this culture runs in the veins of the people of Gqeberha.

Two-time Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was born and bred in this part of the country.

Defending Champions the Sunrisers Eastern Cape, coached by local boy Adrian Birrell, naturally embody the iBhayi culture that was a driving force in them winning the trophy in the inaugural season of the SA20.

“Knowing Adi relatively well, my perception is you can do good things with good people.

“I think that’s one of the qualities that Adi signs on,” spinner Simon Harmer said of Birrell’s character and coaching philosophy.

“He wants to know who the person is. He wants to know their character and what they are going to bring into the team.

“The one thing that the Sunrisers have in their corner, is that it’s a bunch of good people, obviously with exceptional skills.

“When it comes to going the extra mile for a teammate or picking somebody up when they’re down, that sort of togetherness and that ‘family-ness’ goes a long way, especially when the chips are down.

“If you look at how they rallied last year after losing their first two games, finding ways to win, slaying giants, so to speak, Adi has done exceptionally well at looking at characters over other aspects of performance,” Harmer added.

The Sunrisers lost an impact player in Roelof van der Merwe, who was a big part of the team’s journey last year, however, Birrell went looking for the right character to replace the “Bulldog”. A trade was made between the Sunrisers and the Durban Super Giants, leading to Jon-Jon Smuts joining the Super Giants, while Harmer has travelled down the coast to set up shop in Algoa Bay, where he had been playing since the age of 19.

Harmer, who is now 34 years old, still has an incredibly competitive nature, meaning Birrell found a perfect replacement for Van der Merwe as they begin their title defence today against the Joburg Super Kings in Gqeberha.

“I think so,” Harmer replied, when asked if he Birrell looked for the competitive edge in him to replace Van der Merwe. “(Van der Merwe’s competitive nature) went a long way in the tournament for Sunrisers last year. I’m also a very competitive person.

“I’m going to look to be true to myself and bring that competitive edge but I definitely think it was a factor in me being in this (Sunrisers) seat today.”

The Sunrisers have been rocked by injuries to all-rounder Sisanda Magala and fast bowler Craig Overton, and have named all-rounder Patrick Kruger as a replacement.

The tournament opener gets under way at 5.30pm and before the action gets going, Grammy Award-winning artist Zakes Bantwini will grace the stage and mark the start of edition two of the SA20.


SUNRISERS EASTERN CAPE: Aiden Markram, Ottniel Bartman, Dawid Malan, Liam Dawson, Marco Jansen, Patrick Kruger, Tristan Stubbs, Brydon Carse, Temba Bavuma, Sarel Erwee, Jordan Hermann, Aya Gqamane, Adam Rossington, Tom Abell, Caleb Seleka, Beyers Swanepoel, Andile Simelane, Simon Harmer.

JOBURG SUPER KINGS: Faf du Plessis, Gerald Coetzee, Moeen Ali, David Wiese, Sam Cook, Zahir Khan, Leus du Plooy, Reeza Hendricks, Lizaad Williams, Nandre Burger, Donovan Ferreira, Aaron Phangiso, Sibonelo Makhanya, Kyle Simmonds, Wayne Madsen, Romario Shepherd, Dayyaan Galiem, Ronan Herrmann, Imran Tahir.


IOL Sport