AJ Harris, joined Nottinghamshire from Derbyshire in 2000 and left in 2009 for his third East Midlands home, Leicestershire. Although born in Ashton-under-Lyne over the border in Lancashire, he grew up in the tiny NE Derbyshire village of Tintwistle, and in his career garnered some unusual, not to say unlikely, cricket records.
It is fair to say that Harris is a bowler, pure and simple – in 300+ First-Class or senior limited overs matches he never managed a fifty – yet it is as a batsman that his career at Trent Bridge will be always recalled.
In his first summer in Nottingham, during the home game against Worcestershire he strode to the wicket with the total a depressing 161 for nine, in response to the visitors’ 402. By the close of play he had assisted Usman Afzaal in a stand worth 139 – Afzaal not out 146, Harris not out 35. Just fourteen runs were needed at the start of the third day’s play to create a new 10th wicket partnership record, the old record having stood unchallenged since 1911. With thirteen runs added, Harris was out, hit wicket.
In 2003 Notts played Durham University at Trent Bridge. Chris Read was 94 not out when the 8th wicket fell; Shreck went out to bat. The Notts manager, knowing Shreck’s frailty, suggested that Harris buckle on his pads just in case Shreck was dismissed before Read reached three figures. Harris, who had suffered an injury whilst bowling, began to change out of his track-suit. A minute later Shreck was given out. Harris pulled on his shirt, grabbed his pads, gloves and bat and descended the staircase. He reached the pavilion door just as the fielders walked off the playing area. The umpires declared Harris ‘timed out’. It was the first time this had occurred in a first-class match in England (it has not occurred a second time to date) and he is one of only four batsman to be thus dismissed in a First-Class match.
Harris nearly caused a sensational upset in the C&G match versus Durham at Trent Bridge in 2006. Durham made 280 in their allotted overs. Notts batsmen gave an abysmal display with the total dropping to 95 for eight, with Read the not out batsman. Harris limped to the crease – he had torn a thigh muscle whilst bowling – and somehow the pair added 155. Only 31 needed for victory. Otis Gibson then dismissed Harris and the final wicket failed, so the game was lost, but Read and Harris achieved a new 9th wicket record partnership that is yet to be matched or beaten.
Finally in 2008, AJ managed to play first-class cricket for three counties – Nottinghamshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire – thus equalling Kyle Hogg’s achievement in 2007.
Harris’s best summer at Trent Bridge was in 2002 when he topped the county bowling averages with 67 wickets at 22.01 runs each. In the course of that summer he captured ten wickets v Worcestershire at Trent Bridge, in a victory that assured promotion to Division One.
He had a well-deserved benefit season in 2008 and then moved on, though he played just two seasons for Leicestershire and finished his senior cricket career with Staffordshire in 2011