TWO County Championship matches stick out for bowler Simon Harmer as highlights during Essex’s title-winning campaign.

The South African spin bowler took 14 wickets in consecutive clashes against Warwickshire and Middlesex.

And the 28-year-old, who joined Essex as a Kolpak player at the start of the campaign, took 9-95 in the second innings against Middlesex to become the first Essex bowler to take nine wickets in an innings since Mark Ilott in 1995.

Career-best figures of 14-172 followed, and Harmer was delighted to make a major contribution to the Championship-winning term.

Harmer said: “Taking 24 wickets in two games was really good and a personal highlight for me.

“It’s a cliché but contributing to winning the title and going unbeaten is the biggest and most pleasing thing.

“Knowing that I was part of this and did my bit is a big thing for me.

“Winning the title and those games will go down in my cricket memoirs as some of the better days of my life.

“It’s pretty unreal to go the whole season unbeaten and win 10 of the 14 matches.

“I think it is just reward for the club and what they have done because a lot of hard work went into this.

“The brand of cricket we have played and the leadership have been pretty unbelievable for a team coming up from Division Two.

“It’s been really nice to be a part of everything.”

Harmer finished the season with 72 wickets and was just three scalps adrift of team-mate Jamie Porter, who was the County Championship’s most prolific bowler.

And Harmer feels there are similarities between Porter and South African fast bowler Vernon Philander.

“There was banter in the dressing room between Jamie and I,” admitted Harmer.

“But he fully deserves to finish the season as the County Championship’s top wicket-taker.

“He bowled incredibly well and hopefully bigger honours await him.

“I think he is a massive prospect - I call him the ginger Vernon Philander!”

And Harmer feels Essex should look to make it back-to-back Division One titles next term.

The spin bowler added: “The biggest thing is to make sure that we don’t rest on our laurels.

“We must try and get better because obviously we are going to have a massive target on our backs.

“It’s a massive winter for us and hopefully we will hit the ground running next season.”