Lancashire v Hampshire, Southport, 2nd day August 29, 2013

Kerrigan begins to put England horrors behind him

Paul Edwards at Southport

Lancashire 421 (Procter 66, Prince 63, Chapple 63, Kerrigan 62*, Reece 50) and 39-0 lead Hampshire210 (Vince 106, Hogg 5-39, Kerrigan 3-48) by 250 runs
Scorecard

Those who fall under the thrall of cricket should prepare themselves for rapture and torment. Anyone doubting the game's multi-faceted power might do worse than have a chat with Simon Kerrigan but they would probably be wise to wait a few months or so, until the dust of the last week has settled.

Seven days ago the slow left-armer's Test debut in the final Ashes Test was documented in all its horror. Plainly his return to first-class cricket against Hampshire at Southport this week was bound to be scrutinised very closely. The presence of the ECB's Lead Spin Bowling coach Peter Such, plus Jack Birkenshaw, one of the most highly-regarded spin bowling coaches of his generation, was evidence of that.

Let us take a Gradgrindian refuge in facts for a moment. On a day which Kerrigan will remember for the rest of his career, he made 62 not out, his highest first-class score, to help Lancashire amass an impressive 421 in their first innings; he then took 3-48 in Hampshire's innings, taking his fiftieth Division Two wicket when he dismissed James Vince for 106.

Lancashire then opted not to enforce the follow on and had established a lead of 250 by the close. A declaration sometime after lunch tomorrow seems in prospect. The league leaders occupy the 2s 6d seats in this game and are very warm favourites to win it.

So far, so adequate. But the full variety of Kerrigan's day has yet to be explored. For example in mid-afternoon the England spinner had bowled four overs for 27 runs, figures which barely reflected the mediocrity of his performance. Long hops and full tosses were served up and dealt with, mainly by Vince, whose high-quality innings is in danger of being obscured on this most eventful of days.

Kerrigan, though, is a tough little hombre. Anybody with half a cricket brain who has watched him regularly knows as much. Until last Thursday he responded to every challenge, whether with Lancashire or England, with phlegmatic dedication and quiet relish. All of which made his agony at the Oval seven days ago all the more surprising and painful. This was not the nuggety cricketer who, although still only 24, the county correspondents knew and admired.

A week, though, is a long time in the life of a young cricketer. Precisely seven days on from his Kennington collapse, Kerrigan responded to his poor display before tea by taking three for 21 in 10.5 overs after the second break.

Adam Wheater was splendidly caught by Paul Horton running back from mid-off, Chris Wood was bowled trying to make room to drive, and by the time Vince skied Kerrigan to Chapple at mid-on to end the Hampshire innings, the spinner was back to something within calling distance of his best. It was good to see and the home crowd responded to his very success with heartwarming enthusiasm.

But the Southport public had more than one opportunity to salute Kerrigan's fighting qualities on Thursday. In the morning session he had made a career-best 62 not out, and shared in the highest 10th wicket stand in games between Lancashire and Hampshire. Kerrigan's partner in the 114-run stand was his captain Glen Chapple, who made 63 not out and who has received almost all the game has on offer bar a Test cap, which remains a matter of deep resentment in the Rossendale and Ribble valleys.

So maybe there was no better man to accompany Kerrigan on his attempt at redemption, no cricketer more likely to remind the newest England cricketer that when the game kicks you in the teeth, you simply mop up the blood and get on with it.

Kerrigan has worked hard on his batting and fielding; he wants to be as good a cricketer as he can possibly be. In 2011 he made his previous highest score against Somerset and received a bat off Farveez Maharoof and a bottle of Jagermeister off Gareth Cross. (Lancashire won the title the same day, so the bat lasted longer than the booze.)

Thursday was a vital day in the career of this young cricketer, who still has all before him, including, his supporters will insist, a decent Test career.

Yet the second day of this game was also a triumph for Kyle Hogg, whose figures of 5 for 39 included the first four Hampshire wickets to fall. On a Trafalgar Road wicket which still contains few terrors, Hogg used the new ball in exemplary fashion, pitching it up and letting it swing and seam.

He removed the cream of Hampshire's batting in his first eight overs and returned to get rid of Matt Coles, caught behind first ball, to clinch his third five-wicket return of the season, Helped by Chapple, who had Sean Ervine well caught at slip by Ashwell Prince for 12, Hogg offered an unrelenting threat.

Hampshire will plainly do well to save this game. That, though, little concerned the paying public as they left this beautifully presented outground on the second day of this match. They had seen 374 runs scored and 12 wickets fall. They had seen one young English batsman make a superbly-crafted century and another recover from a mauling to impress with both bat and ball.

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