Five-Fer The Best Birthday Present Possible
Young Lancashire spinner Simon Kerrigan's second installment in his regular diary of the county cricket season highlights his recent performance in which he took five wickets, despite only being a late addition to the side. You can read his first column here.
"Of all the cards I received for my 22nd birthday, I think the scorecard from Saturday’s win over Warwickshire has to take pride of place.
"As a bowler you don’t often get figures as stunning as 7-1-7-5. So I will treasure those for a long time to come.
The fact that my five wickets helped Lancashire to a shock win – our third in four County Championship games this season – made it even better.
"And seeing ourselves at the top of the table after a quarter of the season is very satisfying. Let’s hope we can keep it up.
There were some great headlines after the match like 'Kerrigan fires out Warwickshire,' or 'Lancashire top after Kerrigan’s five-wicket blast.'
"The Daily Telegraph said: 'Simon Kerrigan upstages England trio in front of watching Andy Flower.' But it wasn’t just about me at Edgbaston, far from it. Gary Keedy was magnificent and between us we took the last eight wickets for nine runs in a dramatic battling collapse by Warwickshire.
"I don’t think we will ever return figures like that again in any form of cricket.
"Warwickshire were quickly becoming favourites to win the match at 68-2. We were having no luck, with edges going into gaps and going for four.
"But Keeds and me came on and what happened after that was just unbelievable.
"To be fair it was all a bit hectic before that game. I was only called up for Edgbaston the night before it began because Kyle Hogg turned his ankle in the nets. With four other seamers injured I was brought in as a second spinner to Keeds.
"Prior to arriving in Birmingham we had been away for ten days, starting with Sussex in the Championship, then on to Chelmsford to face Essex in a CB40 match.
"After that Essex game, as I wasn’t expecting to be playing against Warwickshire, I came back home to Preston for the night before driving to Northop Hall Cricket Club to play in a Second XI one-day game.
"We faced Worcestershire who had seven contracted players in their team, compared to our four. Yet we beat them hands down, mainly thanks to a century from scholarship player Jordan Clark, who hit one of the biggest sixes I have ever seen.
"I was then supposed to be playing in the Second team’s three-day game the following day, but I got pulled to one side by assistant coach Gary Yates after the Northop Hall game and told I had to re-pack my stuff and drive back to Birmingham.
"When I reached Edgbaston the wicket looked quite green and I didn’t think I would feature very much as the second spinner in our team.
"We won the toss and batted first, posting what seemed to be a below average score of 227, although Stephen Moore played a great grafting knock of 67 off 138 balls.
"We had an opening attack that every county would fear with Glen Chapple and Jimmy Anderson and it was great to see Glen pick up his 800th first-class wicket when he had Will Porterfield caught behind.
"I thought we bowled really well as a unit against a side with five players who have all played Test cricket.
"It was good that myself and Luke Procter got amongst the wickets as we bowled them out for 172, giving us a lead of around 50.
"I managed to dismiss Ian Bell with a feather nick behind with my third delivery of the game and that gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the match.
"We knew we would have to get as many runs as possible in the second innings because of the strength of their batting. We needed to give them a big total to chase, but when we were out for 172 that meant they needed 245 to win.
"With only two wickets down for 68 it was beginning to look like they might go on and get them. But Keeds and I got at them and eight wickets tumbled in next to no time.
"It was a great feeling to bowl them out – something I will never forget.
"But, having said that, it doesn’t guarantee I will definitely keep my place in the team for our next Championship game, which is the Roses Match at Liverpool a week tomorrow.
"I feel I have put my name forward and that’s all I can do. But I will just have to wait and see what the selection is.
"If we play only one spinner then I would still expect that to be Keeds because he has consistently picked up wickets all season and is bowling very well at the moment.
"But despite us having such a small squad this year, there are still people not in the team whom deserve to be playing and can’t get in.
"It is incredibly competitive. All I can do is wait and hope."