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Who is Simon Kerrigan?

Who is Simon Kerrigan?

12-months ago he was selected in Lancashire's Academy, and in September he signed a 2-year professional contract with his home county, but who is Simon Kerrigan?

The Lancashire Evening Post recently ran a feature article on the the 19-year-old Spin-star from Preston, who is hoping to one day follow in the footsteps of another Preston lad - Andrew Flintoff.

Simon Kerrigan hardly needed telling he wasn't built to be a fast bowler.  Standing just 5ft 9in and wafer thin, Lancashire's latest cricketing hope took one look in the mirror and decided he was really made for spin.

Little more than two years after converting from seam to slow left-arm, the 19-year-old from Preston has signed a two-year professional contract at Old Trafford and is being tipped for the very top.

"It has all happened so quickly, I can hardly believe it," admitted Kerrigan who, like Red Rose idol Andrew Flintoff, hails from that cricketing oasis of Ribbleton.

"I was doing okay bowling medium pace for Fulwood and Broughton second team. But I think you have to be tall to be a really good quickie.

"My seam bowling wasn't really getting me that many wickets, so that kind of made my mind up for me.

"The coaches didn't need to tell me, I knew I needed to switch.

"I'm glad I did because things have just taken off. It's been incredible."

Kerrigan spent last season playing for Lancashire Seconds and helping Ormskirk to be crowned champions of the Liverpool Competition.

His progress at Old Trafford has been so spectacular that second-team skipper Mal Loye recently described him as: "An outstanding prospect with a massive future in the game".

And even better, the former England one-day player also predicted the youngster had 'all the makings of overtaking Monty Panesar as the country's No.1 left-arm spinner'.

Lavish praise indeed from a man who has played alongside Panesar on the international stage and, as a belligerent top-order batsman, has seen off quite a few of the world's top spinners in his time.

Kerrigan looks a touch embarrassed as he listens to Loye's comments.

"Wow, that's nice of him," he said. "People will be thinking I paid him to say that! It's obviously nice to know great players like Mal think I've got a bit of something.

"But, honestly, I've got an awful long way to go to be anywhere near as good as Monty.

"One day I hope to play for England. That's the big ambition. But I haven't even played for Lancashire's first team yet, so it is all a bit unreal."

Kerrigan admits he has always had the talent for spinning a cricket ball even though he started out at club level as a medium pacer.

Messing about in the school yard he could turn it a prodigious amount, much to the dismay of his playmates at St Maria Goretti Primary and Corpus Christi High.

But seam was the chosen weapon when he joined Grimsargh CC as a nine-year-old and then moved on to Fulwood and Broughton the following year.

"We didn't play much organised cricket at school because when I was there, Corpus Christi only had a small inter-school competition every year and the standard wasn't great," he recalled.

"The only way was to join a club and I had one year at Grimsargh where they only had an Under-13s team so at nine or 10, me and a couple of mates had to play against older boys.

"Fulwood and Broughton had a really good junior set-up and so I joined them the following year to play with lads my own age.

"The coaches were brilliant and brought me on a tremendous amount right through to me joining Lancashire and moving to Ormskirk this year.

"I owe them so much for the help and encouragement they gave me. It is something I will never forget."

Kerrigan's advancement at Lancashire can only be described as fast-track. Only 12 months after making the club's Academy squad he is now on the full-time staff.

"It's been a bit of a shock to get a two-year contract so soon," he said. "Typically people go on to a Scholarship before they get a contract.

"But I've gone straight from the academy to being a professional, so that's something I'm obviously delighted about. It's a terrific honour.

"They haven't really told me why I have been moved on so quickly. I think it must be because of my performances as I have progressed through the junior groups.

"This summer was my first full season of second XI cricket and I have really enjoyed it.

"I have been getting wickets and bowling longer spells, so my game has been coming along nicely.

"I've had brilliant advice and help from the captains. The first part of the season it was Mark Chilton and he has so much experience. Then later it was Mal and everyone knows about him.

"My first wicket for the second team was Dougie Brown. That was a good start for me. Even though he isn't really a mainstream batter, he has still been a good player in his time.

"I got a five-for in one game which was terrific. I'd like a few more of those next season.

"It also helped moving into the Liverpool Competition as I realised a year ago if I had any ambition to get a contract with Lancashire then I needed to be bowling against better batsmen on a regular basis – professional batsmen if possible.

"I loved my time in the Palace Shield with Fulwood and Broughton and I learned such a lot. But the set-up in the Liverpool Competition is different, it allows me to bowl longer spells and there is no restriction on the number of English-qualified professionals playing in it.

"There are a few from Lancashire scattered about in the league. It's a good competition and it has certainly helped me progress."

Kerrigan was the second highest wicket-taker in the Liverpool Premier League in 2008 with 66 at 12.45 apiece. He was first past 50 in the competition.

Having helped Fulwood and Broughton to their league title in his first full summer as a spin bowler, it was more than a coincidence that Ormskirk won their championship in his debut season too.

The teenager will be back next summer as well as playing for the county second team, waiting for that big chance to come his way.

"I'll just have to wait and see how next season goes at Old Trafford," he said. "If I do well and maybe if there is an injury or something like that, you just never know.

"The thing is I have to be ready to take the opportunity if it comes my way.

"I'm not building my hopes and aspirations up too much for next summer. I just want to concentrate on my cricket and see what comes along.

"If Mike Watkinson came to me and said, 'You're in,' then it would be out of this world. But it does no harm to dream.

"When I look at my situation I'm still pinching myself really. I wasn't even at Lancashire at the age of 15 and yet, four years on, here I am preparing for a season as a professional.

"If anyone had told me that would happen I seriously wouldn't have believed them.

"I've played in the same team as Andrew Flintoff – we both turned out for the seconds at Alderley Edge this summer.

"He's been great with me – like all the lads at Old Trafford.

"They are all down to earth and happy to help the youngsters with advice and encouragement.

"Freddie and me come from the same area of Preston so we have that in common. But I'm not sure we have anything else in common though when it comes to the way we play!

"I've played against his brother in the Palace Shield and he hit me out of the park a few times. So I'd hate the think what Freddie would do to my bowling.

"But, as I said, he's been a terrific help to me."

Winter is no longer a time for cricketers to put their feet up and wait for the sunshine to return. Kerrigan is already working on his fitness levels for next summer and pondering whether to jet off to Australia to keep his spinning fingers supple by playing competitive cricket Down Under.

He has also been advised to change his eating habits – and that means no more Big Macs.

"My diet was really poor when I first joined Lancashire, but they are trying to change that to give me some extra energy.

"I used to like the odd burger, but no more. They are knocked on the head completely.

"I'm doing a lot of fitness work to improve my stamina and strength. But I class myself as a good trainer, it's something I enjoy doing.

"Pre-season training begins in eight weeks' time, so I've got to be ready for that.

"I don't know whether to go abroad for a bit of competitive cricket during the winter because I think it definitely gives you a head start when the English season begins.

"I have not set plans to go away. But I wouldn't rule it out totally.

"The club leave it up to you, it's your choice. But I know it definitely brings you on as a player to play in different climates and on different surfaces.

"Australia would be an option. The players at Old Trafford who have been away before have good links and they would help me sort it out if I decided I wanted to go."

With an England place his ultimate aim, Kerrigan knows he must improve his batting if one day he is to get the nod over the spinning competition.

"It's getting better, but it could do to improve even more," he smiled.

"I ended up batting No.8 for the second team and I have even batted at three a couple of times for Ormskirk.

"I've had a 60-odd for Ormskirk and I think my highest for Lancashire has been 30-something.

"I'm no mug, but it is something I'm hoping to improve on this winter with the coaches at Old Trafford.

"You have always got to want to improve your game. And there are going to be times when your batting could be the thing that gets you in the side, particularly in the one-day stuff.

"A spinner who can bowl not quite as effectively as you but can chip in with a few runs down the order would tend to get the nod in one-day games.

"In the Championship they tend to go for the better bowler.

"So if I could be the best on both counts I might be in with a chance. But that's only a dream at the moment.

"Over the years there have been lots of players who have shown promise. Some have gone on to fulfill that talent and others have just faded out of the picture. Hopefully I can be one of those who kicks on and achieves their dream."

Article:  Lancashire Evening Post – The Big Interview, by Brian Ellis (11 October, 2008)
 


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