Left-arm spinner Gary Keedy is looking forward to his first return trip to Emirates Old Trafford with his new Surrey side for tomorrow's crucial Yorkshire Bank 40 clash.
"It will (be a proud moment). Surrey's my cricket team now, and I want to do as well as I possibly can for them, but nobody will ever take away the fact that I played 18 years at Old Trafford, which I consider my cricketing home,” he said, forgetting the Emirates tag.
"It's ok, don't worry, I keep forgetting to put the Kia on the Oval too. I keep getting told off for that!
"I've got a lot of friends and supporters, and coming back will be a good moment for me. Hopefully I can get picked and put a performance in.
"More than anything it will give me a chance to say a few goodbyes. Everything happened so quickly over the winter, I never really got a chance to catch up with a few people and say 'thanks for everything, see you later'. It will be nice to come back and say goodbye properly.”
Keedy earned the tag of a Lancashire legend during his 18 years at the club he joined in 1995, taking 654 wickets in 215 first-class matches for Lancashire as well as 114 in 90 List A matches and 72 in 70 Twenty20s.
He also affected the run out of Gemaal Hussain against Somerset at Taunton in September 2011 to help Lancashire win their first Championship title since 1934. He was happy to remind people at the time that it was the first direct hit of his career!
Keedy, aged 38, only played four Championship matches for Lancashire last season due to Simon Kerrigan’s emergence, which was fewer than he would have liked at this stage of his career. He took up the offer of a two-year contract from Surrey with Lancashire’s blessing.
Unfortunately, things have not started as well as he would have liked on the field for his third county - he also briefly played for Yorkshire, the county of his birth, before being tempted across the Pennines.
He has only taken two wickets in two LV= County Championship and two 40-over outings.
"As the season went on, you start weighing up options as to where you want your life to go,” he said, of his decision to leave Lancashire. “It wasn't a knee jerk decision by any stretch. It wasn’t just me, there was a number of factors with the three lads in Keggsy, Pazza and Arron (Lilley).
“There was a lot of careful consideration. Ultimately, it was the right decision for everyone involved.
"As far as moving down there, settling in and getting a good relationship with the coaches and the lads, I've done that pretty well. I feel comfortable down there. London life is good for me.
“Cricket wise, I'm preparing and training as well as I always did, but I admit the results haven't gone my way.
"So long as you look after your processes, how you prepare and what your mind's like going into a game, it will pay you back. Short-term it's not quite happened, but I'm hoping over a long-term period I will get rewards.”
Ashwell Prince admitted at Derby last Sunday, with a smile, that he was not sure whether he and his Lightning colleagues would look to attack Keedy or not.
“I'm sure they've sat down and had a chat about me, like they would do with any bowler,” added Keedy. “They'll have their plans in place. I also know that if I execute my plans as well as I can, it will be difficult for them.
“It will be interesting to see whether they go for it or how much respect they pay me.”
Lancashire are still searching for their first win after two Group B fixtures, having won one and had a No Result. They need to get off the mark quickly. Surrey, meanwhile, have won one and had a No Result.
"We were hoping Derby was going to be our chance to get off and running,” said coach Peter Moores. “We're desperate to get going. We were disappointed with how we played in the first game against Durham, and we looked a bit rusty in all parts of the game. We'll want to play well against Surrey. It's not an easy game, but we're at home. We'll fancy our chances if we play well.”
Photo (c) Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport