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Simon Harmer could return for South Africa again after his England hopes were dashed

Simon Harmer could yet make a return to international cricket with South Africa after the door to his England ambitions was closed by the imminent end of Kolpak cricketers.

Prolific off-spinner Harmer, named county cricket’s most valuable player in 2019 after helping Essex to a second Championship title in three seasons plus the Vitality Blast title, is once again leading the way with 23 wickets in the Bob Willis Trophy.

The 31-year-old had been hoping to qualify for England on residency but as a tier-five visa holder has no rights to remain as a local player to continue that process next year, when Essex will therefore transfer him to overseas status as per the terms of his contract at Chelmsford.

Harmer played five Tests for South Africa in 2015 but the loss of his franchise contract soon afterwards led him to pursue his first-class career over here.

Now, he is set to discuss the possibility of representing the Proteas once more. Talks are yet to take place but will be on the agenda over the coming months with Cricket South Africa currently engaged in a planning phase for their 2020-21 schedule.

Coincidentally, Harmer’s position could be strengthened by the fact that South Africa’s current Test spinner Keshav Maharaj is looking to take a sabbatical and play a full season of county cricket as an overseas player in 2021. 

Yorkshire, for whom he claimed 38 Division One victims in just five outings last year, and Warwickshire, a team looking to replace the retiring Jeetan Patel with a proven performer, are both understood to be interested.

But he will only pursue such an opportunity to return to the highest level with the blessing of Essex, the club who remain his primary employers despite the impending change of his status.

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