Simon Kerrigan turned plenty of heads during his debut season in county cricket, including some of the most important coaches in the English game.
Lancashire’s young left arm spinner impressively filled the void left by Gary Keedy during the first half of last summer after Keedy suffered a broken collarbone in a pre-season friendly.
The 21 year-old took 30 wickets from 13 LV= County Championship matches, including three five wicket hauls, and eleven from 12 Twenty20 matches.
And now the Preston-born player is preparing to travel to India next month for a fortnight-long ECB run spin bowling camp with Yorkshire’s David Wainwright and batting pair James Vince and Jos Buttler.
Kerrigan explained: “All the way through last season we heard about all these various tours, the Performance Programme and the Lions and things like that, and you’re working quietly to get recognised.
“For me, bowling wise, it’s a great opportunity to get on the sub continent wickets.
“And if, down the line, I play international cricket then I’ll have already had some experience in Indian conditions to look back on.”
Kerrigan’s Championship return included five-wicket hauls against Essex, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire on his debut at Old Trafford.
“Warwickshire was my best game, but there have been times when I've bowled better spells,” he recalled. “When I bowled at Trott and Clarke against Warwickshire at Edgbaston for most of the time, I felt good. I didn't get much success, but I felt I was bowling well.”
As for the season overall, he said: “If you’d have said to me before the start that I’d get 30 Championship wickets at just over 30, I’d have snapped your hand off.
“Halfway through the season, I was thinking about 50 wickets rather than 30. But it didn’t quite work out that way. I’ve still managed to learn a lot from the summer which I’ll hopefully take through this winter and into next season and seasons to come after that.”
He also learnt plenty when he was asked to net with the full England team ahead of their Test match against Pakistan at Edgbaston in August.
“It was a great experience for me,” he explained. “I don’t specifically know the reason for that. Maybe they needed a left arm spinner to go and practice against, maybe they wanted to have a look at me for the future as well. I don’t really know.
“I was a bit star struck at first because there were all the big players you see on TV, but I was quite lucky to have Jimmy Anderson there. I was stuck around for him for the fielding drills.”
When Keedy returned to the fold in early July, Kerrigan had to settle for the role of second spinner for the majority of times in the Championship.
“I thought Keeds showed amazing character and skill,” praised Kerrigan. “To come back from a major injury such as that and bowl as well as he was before he got injured showed the measure of the man.
“He’s probably never bowled as well during his career as he did during that second half of the season. And when Keeds bowled well, I took a bit of a dip in form.
“But I know that if I bowl consistently at my best it will be good enough to challenge Keeds or anyone else.”
by Graham Hardcastle