Kerrigan proving very hard to ignore
Glamorgan 474 (Goodwin 194, Kerrigan 7-162) and 183 for 5 (Rees 107*; Kerrigan 5-90) drew with Lancashire 563 (Katich 115, Prince 113; McCullum 5-191)
Even on a day when events at St John's Wood and Muirfield dominated the attention of the sporting world, the exploits of the diminutive Simon Kerrigan demanded that he be given a corner of Friday morning's back pages.
Kerrigan, Lancashire's slow left-armer, seems almost incapable of leaving a cricket match alone and allowing it to be ushered gently into the shadow-land of history. In mid-afternoon on the final day Glamorgan were 66 for 0 and making good progress in wiping out the home side's first innings lead of 93. Surely the game had a draw indelibly inscribed upon it.
Cue Kerrigan, a cricketer who is quite unfussed by the limelight his exploits attract. His first wicket was that of the left-hander Will Bragg, caught at short-leg for 13 by Andrea Agathangelou. It was a classic offspinner's dismissal.
Six overs later Kerrigan really warmed to his work, taking four wickets in 15 balls as Mark Wallace's team slithered to 98 for 5, a lead of a mere five. That Glamorgan recovered from that crisis to reach 183 for 5 when the players agreed the draw and shook hands was a tribute to the concentration of Gareth Rees, who made his second century in successive weeks, and Nathan McCullum, who completed a fine debut by making 35 not out and sharing in an unbroken stand of 85 with Rees.
Kerrigan finished with 5 for 90 from 27 overs in the second innings and match figures of 12 for 252. They are remarkable analyses, given the wicket for this game was never a dustbowl but a pretty true one on which four batsmen made centuries. But like most high-class slow bowlers, Kerrigan's variations are difficult to detect at first sight from the boundary edge and what was apparent on the final day was the difficulty good batsmen have in dealing with those adjustments when a mere 22 yards away.
Murray Goodwin, who made 194 in the first innings, failed to get to the pitch of the ball and edged a drive to Ashwell Prince at slip. Chris Cooke was caught by the same fielder when he stayed on the crease and quelled neither Kerrigan's bounce nor his spin. Jim Allenby, another proper player, was yorked first ball, and Mark Wallace gave a low return catch to the bowler and seemed to wait only for confirmation from him, not the umpire, that the dismissal was fair. That was pleasing to see, especially as Wallace could not know that his team's cause would be rescued by Rees and McCullum. Indeed, in the press box and stands alike, experienced cricket watchers were glancing at each other and murmuring "all ten" in questioning wonder. Not this time.
In the morning session Lancashire had batted first with caution, then with burgeoning enterprise to add 144 runs to their overnight score. Gareth Cross completed a half-century while both Glen Chapple and Arron Lilley made useful thirties to leave the home side with a useful lead of 93.
Lancashire's total of 563 is their highest against Glamorgan and it was the first time they had scored more than 500 at Old Trafford since they amassed 537 against Yorkshire in 2005. McCullum ended with 5 for 191 from his 47.4 overs on his Glamorgan debut, but it seemed at lunch that this was to be a match remembered for its batting centurions. But Kerrigan has already proved that he can take the architecture of a cricket match and shape it to a form of his own devising. In mid-afternoon he threatened to do it again and it required the steely-eyed obduracy of Rees to resist him. All the same, his subtleties and variations made him look like a bowler who is ready to wear the three lions on his cap.
"I think Simon's an international player of the future without a shadow of a doubt," Lancashire coach Peter Moores said. "He's been identified, he's been on Lions trips and he's been groomed to go on to higher things. He's very hungry, he's very passionate, and that gives you an insight into how much he wants to perform."
To return to domestic matters, Lancashire took seven points from this game and are now eight clear of Northamptonshire at the top of the Division Two table with both sides having played ten games. We shall have to wait until Saturday evening to see how successfully the chasing pack take advantage of Northamptonshire's inactivity and Lancashire's failure to secure victory against Glamorgan.
Also by Saturday, Lancashire's groundsman Matt Merchant will have given Old Trafford's Test match wicket its first cut for a while and it may soon become clear whether the pitch will suit two spinners. If a second slow bowler is required, it is fascinating to speculate as to whether England will give a debut on his own patch to Kerrigan, a precocious young cricketer who has taken 19 wickets in his last three innings.