2009 could well be described in years to come as Stephen Parry's breakthrough' season.
He was a regular fixture in the Twenty20 Cup and NatWest Pro40 League sides, and he also made his debut in 4-day cricket against eventual Champions Durham. Parry took 37 wickets in all competitions in 2009 and was named Chewits Young Player of the Year at the end of season awards dinner at Old Trafford in September.
When asked how his maiden season of 1st XI cricket measured up to his expectations, Parry answers: “From a personal point of view, I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better. It was definitely a honeymoon season for me, but I know that I need to work hard to get better next year. I feel like I’ve built a platform and I need to move onwards and upwards.”
On collecting the Young Player of the Year trophy, Parry remarked how quickly his heart was beating. Was it a shock? “I knew I was in the mix, to be honest,” he remarks. “It’s a fantastic achievement for me, as a player you always want to win something like that. Next year I’ll be too old for the Young Player award so I’ll have to go for the big one! Seriously though, what we all want is a trophy for the team. Silverware for Lancashire is more important than individual awards.”
Parry has been likened by Lancashire Head Coach Peter Moores to ‘a young Daniel Vettori’, and he seems flattered by the association. “Obviously I look up to anyone bowling left-arm spin on the International scene, and he’s one of, if not the best. It’s a huge compliment, especially coming from someone I respect as much as Peter. It’s my aim to just be ‘Stephen Parry’ though, for my name to be recognised in the same way.”
Vettori has improved noticeably in the batting department in recent years and Parry is no mug with the bat himself. “I want to bat as high up the order as I can. I know I’ve got the ability, and I need to keep working hard to improve.” Peter Moores is obviously confident in Parry’s talents, as he promoted the spinner to opener in his debut LV= County Championship match against the much-lauded Durham pace attack. “It was great to be asked, and I was quite relaxed beforehand, surprisingly,” comments Parry. “But when it got nearer the time the butterflies took over!”
2009 saw Parry and Gary Keedy become Lancashire’s very own ‘Spin Twins’, and Parry is appreciative of the influence his more experienced counterpart has had on his development. “Keeds is fantastic, he’s helped me enormously. He knows about most of the players we’re facing, so he can give me tips on how the might be looking to hit the ball. He’s been very supportive, but it doesn’t stop him embarrassing me and cracking jokes – that’s always the way with older and younger players, it’s a good laugh!”
Parry is in Australia this winter, captaining Sale Cricket Club, which is on the outskirts of Melbourne. Wintering Down Under is an important process for Parry: “It’s my sixth season in Australia in a row, so I’m used to it now, it feels natural. Obviously you keep playing but at the same time it freshens you up, prepares you for the next season in England. In my opinion the main thing is that you grow up as a person, being so far away from home for so long. That really helps you develop as a player.
“Lancashire tell you what they’d like you to be working on while you’re away – for me this year it’s just to keep going, looking at my batting and my fielding as well – and then when you go back to training it’s a nice feeling to know that you’ve made improvements. The more you play, the more you learn about the game.”
Sale will have been glad of Parry’s arrival. Having lost their first 3 games, they won their first of the season in the first under Parry’s captaincy. He scored 64 and took 3 wickets in an all-round performance he will hope to repeat throughout the winter. “Captaining the side gives me added responsibility, and I’m really looking forward to that,” he says with an air of someone relishing the challenge.
As for next season, Parry is keen to increase his involvement with the first team: “I just want to play as much as I can. I want to get better at 4-day cricket, and make it difficult for the coaches not to pick me. Obviously the biggest ambition is to win a trophy with Lancashire; I think that’s what we all want.”