Steven Paul Kirby
October 04, 1977, Bury, Lancashire
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
Elton High School, Bury College
Steve Kirby was a flame haired hast bowler with an on-field personality to match. Despite a long and successful county career that included a County Championship win with Yorkshire and spells with four clubs, he never won an international cap.
His career was almost over before it begun. Released by Leicestershire without playing a first team game after sustaining a back injury, he worked as an industrial floor salesman for two years before winning a second chance with Yorkshire in 2001 having impressed in club cricket in Lancashire.
His debut came as a substitute when Matthew Hoggard was selected for England and Kirby, still on trial with the club, grasped his chance with 7-50 on his first-class debut. His third match saw him pitted against his former employers, Leicestershire, and the heroics continued as he recorded match figures of 12 for 72 and was immediately offered a contract with the club. Kirby went on to play a vital role in Yorkshire's Championship-winning side, taking 47 first-class wickets at 20.85. This performance earned him a place in the first England Academy squad, based in Australia, in November 2001.
As well as impressing with his pace, Kirby also developed a reputation as a ferocious opponent with an unusual line in sledging. Mike Atherton was startled to be told Kirby had "seen better players in his fridge," though Kirby insists he actually told Atherton he had seen better players in his fish and chip shop. Either way, Kirby dismissed the former England captain and opening batsmen in both innings of what proved to be his final game.
He claimed 67 first-class wickets at 26.40 in 2003 and was selected for the England A side but, with an England call surely just around the corner, he developed a back problem and then asked to leave Yorkshire at the end of the 2004 season.
Kirby joined Gloucestershire. He claimed 45 wickets at 26.00 in his first season, though it was marred somewhat when he was penalised for ball tampering - he was given a suspended ban for deliberately rolling the ball across the car park during a game against Glamorgan after he had gone to retrieve it - and then took 64 wickets at 22.18 in 2009. Again, he had to be content with a place in the Lions team.
But, desperate to win more trophies and play in Division One, he turned down the offer of a benefit season and negotiated the release from the final two years of his Gloucestershire contract to join Somerset for one final crack at pushing for national selection ahead of the 2011 season.
He took 53 wickets at 31.54 in 2011 - a fine effort on flat wickets - and played in two domestic finals and the Champions League final, but Somerset missed out on a trophy win. Injury limited his 2012 season to nine first-class matches and his chance of playing for England gradually disappeared. He signed a new contract at Taunton following the 2013 season but, with injures now unrelenting, he accepted the inevitable and retired midway through the 2014 season.
As a youth he suffered blackouts and it was only the intervention of future Manchester United and England footballer Gary Neville, who played a lot of cricket as a young man, that saved Kirby's life after he swallowed his tongue during one episode. "I owe him masses," Kirby said.
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