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Southport spin ideal for Kerrigan

Surely lightning will not strike twice if Simon Kerrigan takes 14 wickets when Lancashire return to play County Championship cricket at Southport this summer.

When the Red Rose county last played a four day match at Trafalgar Road, back in 1999, a certain Muttiah Muralitharan made his Lancashire bowling debut against Warwickshire.

The Sri Lankan great, who played-but didn't bowl-at Gloucestershire the week before due to rain, took seven wickets in each innings. But the mercurial off spinner still ended up on the losing side.

Left arm spinner Kerrigan has played a lot of cricket at Southport after playing club cricket in the Liverpool Competition, and he knows all about the vagaries of the ground.

He knows that it takes turn, and he also knows that the game in which Muralitharan shone is honoured in the club’s pavilion.

County champions Nottinghamshire will be the opponents for this year’s encounter, penned in for late July, and Kerrigan is hoping he is involved – and that there will also be a different result.

The 21 year-old said: “I play my club cricket in the Liverpool Competition for Ormskirk, so I’ve played at Southport a few times. All the history there is that it’s a spinning pitch.

“There’s even some sort of score-sheet up in the clubhouse when Muralitharan got 14 wickets on his Lancashire debut. Lancs still lost that game. I obviously hope Lancs win if I get some wickets in that game.”

Kerrigan took 41 wickets across two competitions in 2010 – his breakthrough year in county cricket – with 30 of those coming in the Championship as he stood in impressively for the more experienced Gary Keedy.

Keedy missed the first half of the season with a broken collarbone - and Kerrigan filled the void, finishing the season with three five wickets hauls to his name.

Not only do Lancashire play at Southport, they have five Championship matches at Liverpool and one at Blackpool as Old Trafford continues to be redeveloped.

Preston-born Kerrigan continued: “Hopefully I’ll be able to use last season as a stepping stone to push my career along.

“Playing at Liverpool for a lot of matches will help because it does spin there too. I’m sure there will be times when we play two spinners.

“I’ve played a lot of second team cricket there. I know the pitches are different for first team matches, but the surface is largely sand based. It has definitely spun there in the past for second team games.”

Red Rose coach Peter Moores is also expecting the trio of out-grounds to help his spinners this summer: “Most club grounds generally take turn,” he said.

Such was Kerrigan’s impact last summer, he was asked to go and bowl at the England Test squad ahead of a match at Edgbaston.

And he was also selected to go on an England and Wales Cricket Board run spin bowling camp in India last month.

It lasted for 16 days in the region of Pune, headed by former England twirler Peter Such and also attended by coaches Chris Adams from Surrey and Karl Krikken from Derbyshire.

He added: “There was me and a couple of other front-line spinners there, while there were also some batsmen there to work on spin. It was really good for my game, and hopefully it will have moved me forward in my game. I learnt a lot from it.”

Moores also added of his young spinner: “Simon’s got some new information from India, so he’ll be working through that to improve himself as a player. He did really, really well last season, and he’s a good cricketer.

“He’s got a good basic action and he spins the ball, but for a young bloke he’s got a sound knowledge of his own game. He’s got a massive hunger to do well.

“We saw last year that he’s a big match player. When the pressure’s on, he steps up. When he played in the Twenty20, he came through every time.  We’re excited for him, and he’s a real talent.”

Graham Hardcastle
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd

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