Keedy's day in the sunshine

Lancs 503-6 dec and 24-0 Leics 314 and 212 Lancashire win by 10 wickets
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Gary Keedy, hailed as the golden boy in his native Yorkshire 10 years ago, is now 28, the age when spinners, in the old days, were thought to be reaching maturity. Playing in the last four Championship matches for Lancashire, in one of which he bowled only six overs, he has taken 23 wickets, and for the first time Ashley Giles has a rival for his England place.

Keedy left Yorkshire in 1995 because they preferred to play Richard Stemp. David Lloyd, Lancashire's then coach, signed the left-arm spinner and added, gleefully: "This lad is the best spin prospect in the country."

His advance has been slow, mostly from lack of opportunity as modern conditions favour medium-paced seam before spin. His type needs long spells, with fields set by captains who are both sympathetic to a spinner's needs and patient enough to wait for batsmen to be beaten by guile.

Keedy, with Carl Hooper's off-spin opposite him, wrapped up the Leicestershire second innings in 92 minutes on a gloriously sunny morning, leaving Lancashire to score 24 to win, timed nicely on the stroke of lunch.

Darren Maddy again proved to be the bulwark of a Leicestershire batting order undermined by a pitch that had been helping Keedy since late afternoon of the second day. By late on the third day, Hooper was also finding turn at the pavilion end, and, such is the nature of batsmen brought up on covered pitches, the moment a ball starts to bite and spin they are usually lost.

Darren Stevens, who had batted so well in the first innings, was confounded by one of the two deliveries that turned and lifted. Maddy was lured to his doom by Hooper, while Keedy, by then glittering with confidence, flighted the ball enticingly.

Jeremy Snape was ambushed at short-leg and Phillip DeFreitas attempted to clear mid-on before Hooper, who finished with figures of 5 for 52, rattled David Brignull's stumps.

Lancashire are now only six points behind Surrey on the same number of games and their captain, Warren Hegg, was justifiably cheerful: "I said at the start that Surrey are the benchmark, and we are now toe-to-toe," he said. "We are aiming for all competitions, including the Twenty20.''

And on Keedy: "He's bowling better than ever and benefiting from our big first- innings totals. We can't leave him out now, and the prospect of seeing him bowling in partnership with Harbhajan [Singh] on dusty pitches later this summer is exciting.''