Big interview: Simon Kerrigan
Preston-born Lancashire spinner Simon Kerrigan still believes that a fruitful international career lies ahead of him.
The former Fulwood and Broughton Cricket Club junior star has not featured for England since a traumatic debut against Australia at the Oval nearly four years ago.
With England having secured the Ashes by winning three of the first four fixtures, Kerrigan was drafted in for the fifth and final Test.
His international call-up was reward for a fine season with the ball for Lancashire, which had seen him take 58 wickets – incidentally still his best wickets return for a summer to date.
Unfortunately, his international bow did not quite go according to plan as he conceded 53 runs in eight overs and was not entrusted with the ball by then skipper Alastair Cook for the second innings as the match ended in a draw.
Kerrigan was not selected by England for the immediate return series Down Under that winter, but he showed that he was still very much in the selectors’ minds when he won a recall for a home Test against India at Lord’s the following year although he failed to make the final XI.
Since then, Kerrigan’s international career has stalled somewhat although he has continued to take wickets for his county, averaging 40 First Class wickets over the past three seasons.
With England due to face South Africa and the West Indies over the summer, Kerrigan admits he would love to show what he can do on the highest stage once more.
And believes he is in a much better place to cope with the demands of international cricket.
“To play for England –that is anyone’s ambition, especially mine,” said Kerrigan.
“With the way it went for me when I last played, I definitely want to have another chance and have a really good go at it.
“I am 100% determined to have another go at playing for England.
“I’ve said many times in the past that I want to take as many wickets as I can for Lancashire.
“If I do that then hopefully being picked for England will take care of itself.
“I am definitely a better bowler now than I was back then.”
In his lone England appearance, Kerrigan played alongside one of England’s greatest ever slow bowlers – Graeme Swann.
The Three Lions are still searching for somebody to fill the void left by Swann, who retired from all forms of the game during the ill-fated Tour to Australia during the winter of 2013/14.
The former Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire took an impressive 255 wickets from 60 Test matches, but interestingly did not make his international debut until the age of 28 – the age which Kerrigan only reached earlier this month.
The Lancashire ace admits that Swann’s rise to stardom on the international stage at a relatively late age gives him belief that his best days are still ahead.
Indeed, the way Lancashire’s current coach and former captain Glen Chapple was able to play well into his fifth decade is also an inspiration.
“I think it shows that if you try to stay as fit as you can, as a spin bowler – if you are bowling well enough – there is no reason why you can’t go on until your 40s,” he said.
“You saw with Swanny how his best years came in his late 20s and 30s.
“If you look at Chappie here at Lancashire, he went on to play into his 40s and he was a seam bowler.
“So if you can stay fit and continue to take wickets, it doesn’t matter how old you are.”
Kerrigan made his First Class debut for Lancashire at the age of 20 in 2010 – announcing his potential in spectacular fashion by spinning the county to victory over Warwickshire at Old Trafford.
His five second innings wickets combined with the two he took in the first helped the Red Rose to a 121-run win.
However, it was towards the end of the following summer that he shot to prominence during Lancashire’s historic County Championship success.
In the penultimate game of the season, Kerrigan took an amazing 9-51 in the second innings as Lancashire defeated Hampshire by 222 runs – the Preston bowler taking the final wicket of Neil McKenzie with just minutes to spare on the final day.
That last-gasp victory set the Red Rose up for their final game against Somerset at Taunton where they won by eight wickets thus clinching their first title in 77 years.
Looking back at that golden performance against Hampshire, Kerrigan said: “It would be nice to go and do that again this season.
“Everything just clicked against Hampshire. The ball came out of the hand nicely.
“It’s difficult to say why things just click, but hopefully things will click again this season.”
Lancashire have made a promising start to the new County Championships season and currently lie in third spot in Division One.
And Kerrigan admits Lancashire’s current crop are determined to make sure that their fans do not have another long wait for title success.
“It would certainly be nice to emulate what happened in 2011 – that is certainly our aim. The County Championship is still the one that everybody wants to win.
“You always want to win the one-day stuff but the best team throughout the year always wins the County Championship.”