FEATURE: Kerrigan feels right at home with Northamptonshire

He may be a proud Lancastrian, but Simon Kerrigan feels right at home in Northamptonshire.

By Jeremy Casey
Thursday, 31st March 2022, 11:10 am
Updated Thursday, 31st March 2022, 11:12 am
Simon Kerrigan claimed 29 wickets for Northants in first-class cricket in 2021
Simon Kerrigan claimed 29 wickets for Northants in first-class cricket in 2021

That’s because it is where the 32-year-old has rediscovered his love for professional cricket, and is again enjoying a first-class career that at one point looked to have come to a premature halt.

It was in the 2018 season when Kerrigan dropped out of the the professional ranks to instead start coaching with Lancashire, the club he had been with for 10 years, and then play for Fulwood & Broughton CC in the Northern Premier Cricket League.

Just 28 at the time, it was a period of some change for the left-arm spinner, who in 2011 had helped Lancashire win the County Championship, and in 2013 made his one and only Test appearance for England, against Australia in the Ashes.

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Simon Kerrigan helped Lancashire to the County Championship title in 2011

When he was released by Lancashire he had taken more than 300 first-class wickets.

He was then taken on as coach of minor county Shropshire in the winter of 2019, but it was at this point he was tempted back into the full-time game by Northants head coach David Ripley.

Kerrigan had previously played for Northants on loan in the summer of 2017, and took the chance offered to him to give the professional game a second crack.

His first season back was severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic as he was only able to make two appearances for his new club in the Bob Willis Trophy, but things stepped up a gear in 2021.

Simon Kerrigan says he enjoys 'the vibe' at Northants

Kerrigan was joint second in the club’s first-class wicket-taking charts with 29 victims, and also played four times in the club’s Royal London One Day Cup campaign.

That led to him putting pen to paper on a new two-year deal that will keep him at Wantage Road until at least the end of 2024, much to the delight of the club, and the player.

And Kerrigan says ‘the vibe’ of life at the County Ground suits him to a tee.

“I came on loan at the end of my Lancashire spell for a couple of months, and I was made to feel really welcome then,” he said.

“I liked the fact that the pressure is a little bit different compared to what you get at a Lancashire, or perhaps a Surrey or Yorkshire.

“The expectations day in, day out and game-wise, and the pressure that maybe puts on performances has a little bit of a different feel here (at Northampton).

“That’s not to say there isn’t behind the scenes expectation here, there is. The players are professional cricketers and we want to perform day in, day out.

“But the vibe of the place is a lot different, and I think that works well for certain players.

“There’s no doubt that last season there were times when I wasn’t quite feeling as good, that I would have maybe felt that pressure more in previous years when I was at Lancashire, compared to how it was here.

"That is credit to the set-up the coaches have got here, the way they want to play their cricket, and the way they want to set out their changing room.”

There has been change on that front in the past couple of months, with John Sadler taking over as head coach from Ripley, but Kerrigan says the transition has been smooth and he is looking forward with real enthusiasm.

“I am a perfectionist with my bowling, and last year I had some really good performances and some performances I felt I could do better with,” he said.

“It gives me a lot of confidence knowing that, first of all, Rips and Ray (Payne) showed faith in me to offer me that initial contract.

“Then coming into the new regime, knowing that Sadds, Lidds (assistant coach Chris Liddle) and the rest of the coaching staff really value me as a player, and hopefully I can repay the faith they have shown in me.

“I want to put in some good performances for Northants, and hopefully we can now establish ourselves in division one.”

And Kerrigan is looking forward to what he hopes is going to be a busy season as far as he is concerned, with a lot of overs to be bowled.

“For me, it is about the volume of cricket, and doing it day in, day out, compared to the couple of years that I had off,” he said.

“It is about getting back into the volume of things and how that affects your body, especially with being a little older.

“But going into season it is good to have got a whole winter of work in, I am really looking forward to getting going.”