It was a dream come true. One week playing in the second division of the County Championship. The next making his England test debut in the final Ashes encounter at The Oval. A dream come true, until he was handed the ball by Alistair Cook mid-way through the first afternoon.
Then nerves got the better of Simon Kerrigan. Unable to grip the ball properly, he was mauled by a run-hungry Shane Watson. Bowling tension-filled half-trackers, Watson’s eyes lit up as he helped himself to the young Lancastrian’s anxiety-based offerings. Kerrigan was finally put out of his misery by the England captain, after five run-leaking overs.
So with Australia in control of the game, you would have expected Kerrigan to be given another opportunity yesterday, to show that his first day nerves were simply a blip. But no. Kerrigan, no longer trusted by his captain, was forced to observe proceedings from the deep. Plenty of time to dwell on what went wrong!
It was the football equivalent of a first-teamer being asked to train with the youth players. In other words, I have seen enough – your services are no longer required. No coaxing the best out of the bowler. Cajoling him. Reminding him of his strengths. Building his confidence for the future. Yesterday, Alistair Cook saw no England future for Simon Kerrigan. And had no difficulty in letting him know that.
Kerrigan had to basically stand in a field all day, knowing that his boss thought he wasnt good enough to make a meaningful contribution to proceedings! Hows that for a mental test! A test of Simon Kerrigan’s belief in himself. To not be affected by how others would be thinking of him. To know the mistakes he has made and how to overcome them.
It’s a day that could be the making of Simon Kerrigan. Clearly the selectors feel he has something about him. On the day, nerves got the better of him. It can happen to the best of players.
But he should view the whole experience with a burning desire to prove people wrong. To show the English cricketing public and Alistair Cook that he has got what it takes to bowl for England. To dedicate himself to taking his skills to a new level. To be mad as hell and using Cook’s exclusion strategy as a powerful, motivating focus.
Yesterday at The Oval, was an uncomfortable one for the Lancashire spinner. But in years to come, it may be the day that was the making of him.