A very capable right-hand batsman, Mike Harris reached his peak in 1971. Opening the innings for the County throughout the season, he scored 2,238 runs at 50.86. This placed him third in the First-Class batting table and second only to Boycott in the number of runs hit. His total that memorable summer included no less than nine centuries.
That figure equalled the Notts record, held by then by Dodge Whysall and later matched by Chris Broad in 1990. It should be added that he also captured 23 wickets with his leg breaks and googlies. 1971 was his third season at Trent Bridge; he had joined the County from Middlesex in 1969. After a modest first year, 1,914 runs came from his bat in 1970 and he progressed from there.
Throughout the 1970s Harris was a major force in the County side. 1973 illustrates this point, for in that year he was the sole Notts man to reach 1,000 First-Class runs, that included his best First-Class knock of 201no against Glamorgan. Perhaps his best innings that year, though, was 106 v West Indies, when he, as usual, opened the batting, then was last man out, as the rest of his colleagues struggled.
In 1974 Wisden noted: “Time after time Harris gave his side a solid start and there were many in the Midlands who thought he had done enough to earn selection for the MCC tour to Australia, particularly as during the season he took over the role of wicketkeeper with conspicuous success.”
The selectors seemed rather to ignore him. Even in 1967, when he and Russell formed one of the best opening partnerships of the season (for Middlesex), no-one appeared to pay him much attention.
On several occasions he spent the winter coaching overseas. In 1971-72 Harris played for Eastern Province and in 1975-76 he journeyed to New Zealand and appeared in First-Class matches for Wellington.
After the 1979 season his batting faded somewhat and his final First-Class match for Notts came in 1982.
Michael John Harris was born in St Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall, on 25 May 1944. He moved to Middlesex in 1963, making regular appearances for that county’s Second XI during that season. In 1964 came his First-Class debut for Middlesex. Within a year or so he was rated one of the most promising young players in county cricket. For some inexplicable reason he was released by Middlesex at the close of 1968.
After retiring from county cricket he was initially manager of the squash club at Trent Bridge; he was on the First-Class umpires list from 1988 to 2008.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 453