Lancashire legend Gary Keedy left the county last week after 18 fine years of service, opting to sign a two-year contract with Surrey for the 2013-14 seasons.
37-year old Keedy’s departure was perhaps not all that surprising. He had been frozen out of first class cricket at Old Trafford following the emergence of youngster Simon Kerrigan, playing only four Championship games in 2012, whilst Surrey next season will be plying their trade in Division One of the County Championship, a league above Lancashire following the Red Rose’s relegation this summer.
What isn’t surprising, however, is the amount of well wishing and thank you messages the player has received on this Twitter Account from Lancashire players and fans ahead of his move to London.
The slow left arm bowler is, quite rightly, an Old Trafford great (despite being a Yorkshireman!). In 18 years with the county, he took over 800 wickets, this despite rarely featuring in One Day cricket until the mid 2000s and often having to sit out matches during Muttiah Muralitharan’s four spells with the county.
Keedy’s main success for Lancashire came in the County Championship. In 217 matches, the bowler amassed an incredible 32 five wicket hauls as 656 batsmen perished to his accurate bowling at an average of a shade over 31.
Indeed, given his form in county cricket over a number of years, it is a nigh on disgrace that the bowler was never selected to play for England at senior level.
Regularly, Keedy was overlooked by England coach Duncan Fletcher, despite his wonderful wicket taking ability that earmarked him as a more dangerous bowler than his slow left arm counterpart Ashley Giles, a member of England’s 2005 Ashes winning squad.
The bowler could have been a hugely valuable player to England. During his best days, he was accurate, econmic and on an Old Trafford pitch that was so often receptive to spin, he was deadly.
Fletcher, however, preferred to go down the route of picking players who excelled in at least two of batting, bowling and fielding (that is until Monty Panesar came along) and as such elected to select Giles for much of his time as head coach.
When Twenty20 cricket came along in 2003, Keedy made that his own, too. Taking 72 wickets in 71 matches at an average of 21.40, the spinner helped Lancashire to the T20 finals day on four occasions, most recently in 2011 where “The Lightning” were beaten by eventual winners Leicestershire in the semi-final.
Undoubtedly, however, Keedy’s finest and most cherished memory of his 18 glittering years at Old Trafford came last September when the run out of Gemaal Hussain ended Somerset’s innings as they set Lancashire 211 to win the match and pick up their first County Championship title in 77 years.
Lancashire’s batsmen duly obliged, the Red Rose picked up the most unlikely of title victories and Keedy finished the season as the county’s leading wicket taker with 61 victims.
Lancashire’s loss is most certainly Surrey’s gain, but in Simon Kerrigan – the only spinner to take 50 Championship wickets last season – the Red Rose have a ready-made replacement who will no doubt fulfill the hole that Keedy has left and will hopefully propel the Lightning to future first class titles.
Keedy has, though, been a fantastic servant for Lancashire and for county cricket since moving across the Pennines from Yorkshire in 1995 and he will be greatly missed in the Old Trafford dressing room. Red Rose fans will no doubt wish Keedy all the best for the future and salute him goodbye as he embarks on the final stage of his career in his twilight years at Surrey.