Gary Keedy believes he has taken his game to a new level of intensity this season. The spin bowler was talking ahead of Lancashire's game against Somerset, where new overseas signing Farveez Maharoof is included in the squad at Liverpool.
Celebration time (above) for Gary Keedy during his five-wicket haul against Sussex at Liverpool
Lancashire: Chapple (capt), Brown, Chilton, Croft, Cross (wkt), Horton, Keedy, Kerrigan, Maharoof, Mahmood, Moore, Newby, Smith.
Somerset: Trescothick (capt), Suppiah, Compton, Hildreth, Kieswetter (wkt), Buttler, Trego, Hussain, Kirby, Mendis, Willoughby, Dibble.
Gary Keedy has taken an impressive 36 wickets in his last eight LV= County Championship matches for Lancashire, including a career best innings haul of 7-68 and the sixth ten wicket match return of his career.
He has two young guns breathing down his neck, desperate for his place in the side, yet the left-arm spinner has revealed that he is still learning his trade at the age of 36.
When Keedy returned after missing the first three months of last season with a broken collarbone, his form prompted team-mate Mark Chilton to hail some of the best bowling he had seen from the one-time England Lions star.
And, with a five-wicket haul in the second innings of last week's opening round win over Sussex, Keedy shows no sign of letting up with his fantastic form, even though April in England is widely seen as the cricketing equivalent of the graveyard shift for spinners.
Ahead of tomorrow's match against Somerset at Liverpool, he said: "I've indentified part of my game over the past two years, in particular, an area which I didn't know I was capable of.
"I've took my bowling to a new level with a greater intensity. I've got more of an idea of the surfaces I should be bowling on and with what pace.
"However old you are, your still finding things out about your own game. Peter Moores believes that if you stand still, you'll get left behind. Even at 36, I'm still trying to improve my game."
Somerset started the season as the majority's choice to go one better than last summer's second place finish in the Championship.
But their performance against Warwickshire over the weekend, when they lost by an innings and 382 runs after capitulating to 50 all out in the second innings, will have left some re-assessing their predictions.
Keedy, however, is determined not to underestimate Marcus Trescothick's side, whilst also talking up his own team-mates' potential.
He said: "Every team we play in Division One is a challenge. There's no weak links in this league. Everybody's got a strong bowling line-up and a strong top six. All we can do is prepare for the game as we have done, but we go into it full of confidence.
"We've got a squad of players, even though some people are saying it's a little bit thin, who are all capable of playing first-class cricket and winning a match. Not just playing, but winning a match."
"The Sussex game proved that we've got match winners from all directions in the changing rooms. I hope we do stay fit and together as team because who knows where we'll be. We've put a marker down."
Keedy prepared for the summer in a similar, yet different, manner to that of previous pre seasons. He flew to the Middle East for the third time in fours years, this time as part of the MCC squad to play Nottinghamshire in the 'champion county' four-day match that is seen as the curtain raiser to the English season. The match was played under floodlights with a pink ball.
He said: "I last toured with the MCC in 2004, and it's a wonderful experience. It's a wonderful club to play for.
"The fact that we didn't have an overseas pre season tour, it was a nice ten-day trip for me because I usually get quite a lot of overs under my belt at this time of year. Although I didn't bowl a lot in the match, the practice facilities were superb."
And, as for the continued experiment as to whether day/night Test cricket would work or not, he added: "The pink balls were fine to bowl with, although the batsmen might argue that it was quite difficult to bat in the twilight period.
"But that's the reason they're doing it, to experiment to see if they can do it. To play first-class cricket under the lights is something that I'll remember.
"I can see it working on the sub-continent, but not in England. I don't think under the lights would work in England. But I do think there's a lot of miles in trying to do more with it."
Gary Keedy was talking to Graham Hardcastle
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
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