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Ian Harvey: Australian all-rounder who went unnoticed for country but made it big in Counties

Ian Harvey © Getty Images
Ian Harvey © Getty Images

Ian Harvey, born on April 10, 1972, was a vital cog in Australia’s domination in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With his gentle medium pace, Harvey was tough to get away and he was a handy batsman down the order. Abhijit Banare looks back at the career of the all-rounder.

There are many cricketers at the international level whom you see play for a long time. But once they fade away, it’s tough to recall them. Ian Harvey is one player who falls in that category. He had contributed handsomely for Australia but neither has a five-for nor an One-Day International (ODI) fifty in any of his 73 matches.

The Victorian had started from the roots playing for the state’s Youth squad followed by the Under-17 team. He made it Victoria second XI in December 1992. A year later Harvey made his First -Class debut against New South Wales (NSW) at Sydney with the likes of Shane Warne and Damien Fleming in his team. In 1999 when Harvey made his County debut with Gloucestershire, he had big shoes to fill. It was the giant Courtney Walsh who had left and Harvey was brought in.


Even before this, Harvey had made his ODI debut for Australia in December 1997; he had also played the Hong Kong International sixes against India. It was in the Carlton and United Series that Harvey had made his ODI debut against South Africa. He picked the wicket of Jonty Rhodes but couldn’t do much with the bat as the rest of the team collapsed for 133 chasing 200.

Bowling style

Unlike other Australian pacers, Harvey did not have the advantage of height nor did he have the physique of a fast bowler. When he came running in with the short run-up, one got a feeling that the batsman would either milk him around for runs or try to target him while the other Australian bowlers strangle the batsmen. But Harvey was tough to get away. His economy rate of 4.71 suggests the stingy bowler he was and a potent tool for the skipper to frustrate the batsmen in the death overs.

The fanous slower delivery: Already bowling at such a slow pace, Harvey still had the natural ability to deliver a much slower ball which almost killed the batsman’s patience waiting for the ball to reach to his bat. Those slower deliveries were often fuller or like a low full-toss which was tough to hit away. It was his wicket-taking delivery and succeeded even in the county conditions.

With the bat, Harvey was a handy batsman and could pack great power behind his shots. However, coming down the order at No 7 or 8  meant that he didn’t have much time to get his eye in. His only memorable knock was against West Indies at Kingston, Jamaica where he smashed a 30-ball 48. Australia went on to win by a narrow margin of two runs by the Duckworth-Lewis Method, but Harvey was a far better batsman than the records suggest. He has 15 First-Class centuries to his name.

Memorable performances:


‘Freak’ Harvey TVS Cup final 

It was one of those days India-Australia matches an Indian fan wouldn’t like to recall. In a triangular series involving the hosts, Australia and New Zealand, the Men in Blue made it to the final to face the Aussies. Needing a mere 49 from 63 balls in the chase of 235, India could have fancied to pull this off with four wickets in hand. And even if they failed, you would have expected a frontline pacer to run through the tail. But it was the ‘Freak’ Harvey who rattled the Indians with his loopy medium pacers angling in to the batsmen. He first bowled Murali Kartik with an inswinger and was on hat-trick chance after delivering a yorker to send back Zaheer Khan. Harvey came back to bowl in the 41st over to remove Harbhajan Singh and Avishkar Salvi in a space of four deliveries to script a comfortable win.

Winning the 2003 World Cup

Harvey’s landmark moment would be winning two consecutive World Cups in 1999 and 2003. While he was more of a touring member in the ’99 edition while in 2003 he was lucky to make the cut after all-rounder Shane Watson was injured. But Harvey’s place in the team had started to be uncertain. he played his last ODI for Australia against Zimbabwe in 2004.


In 2008, Harvey played for the Chennai Superstars in the Indian Cricket League under the captaincy of fellow Australian Stuart Law.

The County Stint

2003 was the golden year for Harvey. It was the year he scored the first T20 century, averaged close to 45, averaged around 24 picking 27 wickets and in the T20 matches, apart from that hundred, picked 10 wickets at 15.30. It earned him the Wisden Cricketer of the Year award in 2004. Harvey had also won the Walter Lawrence Trophy  for his 61-ball hundred against Derbyshire.

Ian Harvey was the first cricketer to score a T20 century in England © Getty Images
Ian Harvey was the first cricketer to score a T20 century in England © Getty Images

Twenty20 centuries

Ever since the shortest format was introduced, it seemed that the market value of all-rounders had taken a steep hike. With their skills in batting as well as bowling, all-rounders found their place in T20 Leagues which sprang up around the world. In a span of seven years since 2003, Harvey played for as many as six different teams in the T20s. He kept his allegiance to Gloucestershire from 2003 to 2006. Played for Yorkshire for a season in between. He moved to Hampshire in 2008 and to Northamptonshire in 2009. He also represented the South African team Cape Cobras in 2005-06.

In his first season with Gloucestershire Gladiators in 2003, Harvey notched up the record of becoming the first to score a T20 century in England. Chasing 135 against Warwickshire Bears Harvey had plundered an unbeaten 100 to help his team to a comfortable win. Ian scored two more centuries playing with Yorkshire. In 2004 he scored 108 in 58 balls against Lancashire and in 2005, he smashed 109 from 55 balls against Derbyshire. It was an indication of how good a batsman he was in contrast to the figures indicated by his ODI career with Australia. In contrast, Harvey used to open the batting in England.

Drink driving and county career in a spot

Harvey’s records in the English county circuit made him one of the most popular overseas players. His services since 1999 has helped many teams with Yorkshire and Gloucestershire in particular. However, just one extra drink and Harvey’s career in the county was at stake in 2007. The UK Police caught him for drunk-driving and he was fined as well as faced a ban on nine months from driving. The bigger blow came when the incident led to his UK citizenship being put on hold and so was his Derbyshire career.

“I may have no choice but to retire and cast around for alternative means of earning a living. It’s a frustrating and, for my family, pretty alarming situation. I’ve had so many good times here and have so many reasons to be grateful to English cricket that it would be terribly sad for it to end in tears.

“I was only over the limit by a couple of sips and, while I totally accept that I did wrong and deserved to be punished, what has happened since then has been out of all proportion,” Harvey was quoted as saying by The Telegraph then.

Harvey did play T20s for two seasons after that and later moved on to signing a contract with the Southern Rocks for the T20 league in Zimbabwe.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

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