Kerrigan relishing EPP opportunity
Lancashire spinner Simon Kerrigan is eager to make a positive impression during his time with the England Performance Programme, after admitting he did not expect to break into the squad so quickly.
The 22-year-old was among 17 players selected for the EPP last month and is currently taking part in a three-week training programme at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough.
Despite exhibiting excellent form for Lancashire in 2010, when fellow slow left-armer Gary Keedy missed much of the campaign with a broken collarbone, Kerrigan felt he was still some way away from attracting the attention of the national selectors at the start of this year.
However, after performing strongly in intermittent appearances for his county and making his England Lions debut in the one-day series against Sri Lanka A in August, he is now hoping to further his claims for full international honours.
Reflecting on a pre-season team meeting at Lancashire, Kerrigan told ecb.co.uk: “At the start of the season as a squad we set out individual targets as well as the team stuff and I put down that I’d like to be putting my name forward for winter Lions tours and that sort of thing.
“I put it forward but I wasn’t really expecting it to happen as it did, so I’m really happy that it’s come about that I’ve been lucky enough to get on to the EPP and I just hope I can do well on that and train well.”
While Kerrigan may have been somewhat surprised by his elevation to the EPP ranks, his call-up is unlikely to have shocked many Lancashire fans.
A return of 24 wickets in just four LV= County Championship matches this summer, including sensational second-innings figures of 5-7 and 9-51 in the respective victories over Warwickshire and Hampshire, highlighted the Preston-born youngster’s ability and helped the Red Rose to a memorable title triumph.
Although the continued presence of the evergreen Gary Keedy ensures Kerrigan faces a challenge to nail down a regular place with his county, he is confident he can continue his upward progression.
He also takes heart from the recent success of several players who joined him on Lions duty just a few months ago.
“The Lions games that I played in the summer, guys like (Jonny) Bairstow, (Scott) Borthwick, (Ben) Stokes and (Alex) Hales, they were all playing in them, so it’s great to see that you’re not too far away from where you want to be,” said Kerrigan.
“Obviously I’ve performed well at times this year. It’s just a case of getting that consistency, working hard, and hopefully good things will come.
“You just want to keep going forward and work on all three aspects of your game. At the moment I’m performing as a bowler, but hopefully I can improve my fielding and my batting to give me another string to my bow to push my name forward for selection.”
The spinners, batsmen and wicketkeepers in the EPP squad will head to India for a training camp once their work at Loughborough is completed, a trip Kerrigan is looking forward to.
“I went there last year on a skill set thing and it’s a really good place to play cricket,” he explained.
“There are England coaches who go over there and there are also Indian coaches who offer a different sort of opinion and it’s good to get that.
“I’ll go to India, hopefully impress there and put my name forward to get on the Lions tour (for the tour of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2012).”