Eight not enough to sate Kerrigan
Eight wickets in an innings would satisfy a bowler on almost every occasion.
However, left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan looked set to suffer disappointment after achieving the impressive feat in the penultimate match of Lancashire’s ultimately successful LV= County Championship campaign.
The Red Rose, desperate to secure victory over Hampshire at Aigburth as they aimed to close the gap on Division One leaders Warwickshire, were held up by a defiant 10th-wicket stand between number four Neil McKenzie and James Tomlinson after Kerrigan had ripped through the visitors’ batting order in sensational fashion.
Hampshire’s last pair held firm for more than 21 overs and threatened to wreck an otherwise perfect day for the Preston-born 22-year-old.
Reflecting on the drama during a passage of play that would prove vital to Lancashire’s eventual title triumph, Kerrigan told ecb.co.uk: “It was pretty crazy. I was thinking, ‘Well I’ve got eight wickets, it’s just one more’. It wouldn’t have been remembered as a good performance if I’d got eight and it was a draw.
“In that last partnership, Tomlinson came in and it looked like he was going to get out every ball for the first three or four balls, but then he settled into a rhythm and it looked like he was never going to get out!
“Then it was a case of panic stations really. We were rushing between the overs and you kept looking at the clock and at the changing rooms and five minutes ticked by, 10 minutes. All of a sudden there were only 10 minutes to go and people were getting a bit frantic.”
Thankfully for Lancashire, Kerrigan was not finished. With just four minutes of the final day remaining, he finally ousted the obdurate McKenzie, who was well caught by Tom Smith at second slip.
“We were obviously trying to target Tomlinson,” Kerrigan continued. “But then we thought we can’t just keep giving McKenzie one and just defending to him, we’ve got to somehow try and manage a way to get him out.
“It was just lucky that he didn’t manage to pull his bat away in time, it caught the edge of his bat, it was a great catch by Tom Smith and then the celebrations were pretty epic.
“All of us just ran off like mad men and somehow merged together towards point, I think it was, and just ended up jumping up and down. I saw the playback on Sky Sports News, there was a good camera angle of us celebrating and you can just see me in the middle getting piled on!”
Kerrigan finished with outstanding second-innings figures of 9-51 from 37.2 overs, but modestly admits his wickets could easily have gone to fellow left-armer Gary Keedy, who was similarly economical in returning 1-38 from 33.
He added: “Me and Keeds were more or less unchanged all the way through and I’ve said to people that it could have been Keeds who got the wickets because he was going past the edge every other ball. It just happened that I was lucky to find the edge on most occasions.”
Keedy, who turns 37 later this month, will once again be part of Lancashire’s squad next summer after choosing to extend his stay with the club despite interest from elsewhere.
The continued presence of the Wakefield-born spinner was a major factor in Kerrigan being selected for just four championship fixtures this year, yet the latter insists he is delighted Keedy has agreed a new deal.
“Keeds is a great performer and a great person to train with every day,” said Kerrigan. “We bowled really well together in games this season when we bowled as a partnership, such as the Hampshire game and the Warwickshire game (at Edgbaston in May, where they returned combined figures of 8-9 in the home team’s second innings).
“Naturally I wanted to play every game but we’ve got a competitive squad and in my position, if we only play one spinner I’ve got to compete with Keeds and he’s a proven bowler in first-class cricket, so I’ve not really got too many complaints about it.
“Hopefully I can keep pushing to become the first-team spinner. I’m just happy that when they chose two spinners I got a go.
“I think me and Keeds have got a lot to give as a pair to add to our bowling unit and we’ve got Stephen Parry as well who’s one of the best one-day spinners in the country.
“With having three left-arm spinners, I think it pushes everyone. Every time you train or play, even if it’s a second team game, you know you have got to perform because if you’re not performing at the top of your game, Pazza or Keeds is going to be pushing ahead of you.”
Despite such stiff competition for places, Kerrigan is determined to build on his successes to date when the new domestic season gets under way next April.
“I was in and out of all teams this year, so I’m hoping to make myself established in either one-day or championship cricket and bowl well consistently when I get the chance,” he explained.
“Mooresy (Lancashire head coach Peter Moores) says it all the time, the thing about world-class bowlers is that they have the ability to perform consistently, not just every so often, so I think it’s just a case of trying to push the consistency and trying to improve that way.
“There are minor technical tweaks that you can always work on. Keeds now is 36 or so, but every day he’ll still be working on different parts of his action to try and grain it in so he can do it in a match.
“It’s just a case of minor tweaks maybe and trying to keep developing a stock ball that has good spin on it, good dip, to challenge batsmen on the wickets that aren’t really doing anything as opposed to the wickets like Liverpool that are turning and I know I can bowl on.”