Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Heroes of the Jessop Tavern: Harv

The second in our series of 'heroes' posts focuses on one of the Shire's most popular overseas players. Ian 'Harv' Harvey. An awesome talent. A man who played the game with an insouciant flair. A one day legend. A deadly death bowler with 9 different slower balls and a dangerous hitter in any position. Also a man who thoroughly enjoyed a beer (sometimes several).

One of my favourite memories of Harv came in the first season of domestic Twenty20, back in 2003. The Shire were playing a group match against Somerset at Taunton on a glorious June day. Set 120 to win on the car park, Harv opened up with the Spear and began a ferocious assault on the cidermen's attack. He struck 10 fours and 4 sixes in an unbeaten 75, Glos reaching the target off just 10.2 overs. It was a violent assault and hugely enjoyable for the tv viewer. Bear in mind this was before years of Twenty20 has accustomed us to such feats on a regular basis. A hilarious aside came in the post-match interview (I forget if it was with Harv or the Spear). When quizzed about the rate of scoring, he quipped that as it was such a lovely day, they had planned a trip to Bristol Zoo later on and wanted to get there in good time!

Second memory. The 2003 C&G Trophy final at Lords. A hugely enjoyable match and the first of our back-to-back victories over Worcestershire in the C&G final. Worcestershire had suffered a comical collapse from 64 for no wicket to 149 all out. Harv bowled his usual miserly spell, taking 2-37 from his 10 overs, including the prized wicket of the despised 'flat track bully' Hick for a duck.

Glos began the chase at a good lick and after the Spear departed, I was delighted to see Harv stride out at number three. He proceeded to launch a brutal assault on the hapless Worcs attack, scoring 61 from just 36 balls, including 12 boundaries. His clean-hitting was a joy to watch and most of the fours were powerfully struck through the off side, including as memory serves, 5 fours in an over off then-England hopeful Gareth Batty. Harv actually managed to find time to be dismissed with a few runs still needed, all the better for him to depart to thunderous applause from the 'Shire faithful. Our seven wicket win was achieved off just 20 overs!

Finally, a Harv moment that I wasn't there for, but which was relayed to me by an awe-struck Dad who had gone up to Edgbaston to watch. It was a C&G Quarter Final, also in 2003, against Warwickshire at Edgbaston and a young man named Ian Ronald Bell was at the crease. He struck two early boundaries, but was then brilliantly run out by  Harv. As Dad and his friends pondered the superb piece of fielding, they realised that Harv had performed it left-handed! Considering I can barely throw the ball a yard with my weaker hand, his nickname of 'Freak' was fully justified by this moment of magic.

It was a great shame to see Harv depart for Yorkshire following the 2003 season and he was not quite the force of old on his return for a season in 2006. A sad irony was that his application for British citizenship, in order to play for Derbyshire as a non-overseas player, was derailed due to a past drink-driving conviction.

Thanks for the memories, Harv.

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