Keedy buys into Formby revolution
Jamie Bowman - Friday 1st May 2015
It was 21 years ago when former Lancashire coach David Lloyd snapped up Gary Keedy (pictured left) from Roses rivals Yorkshire at a time when he was being touted as England's next left arm spinner.
More than two decades later, Keedy is still as enthusiastic as ever about his craft and determined that the virtues of spin bowling are handed down to the next generation.
Admitting that the word 'retirement' isn't in his vocabulary, the 40 year old has arrived at Formby this season still harbouring hopes of a return to first class cricket, if not that long predicted England cap which mystifyingly, for some reason, never arrived.
"It's just nice to be playing cricket again," said Keedy, who claimed five wickets for his new side on his league début against Northern last week. "I've not played club cricket since 1996 and I've never had a club in Lancashire because I played all my junior cricket in Yorkshire. So when Ian (Cockbain) asked me to come and play for Formby, I thought 'I know some of the lads anyway, I like the set up, the place and the people' so why not commit to the club and give them everything I've got?"
Giving everything was always a Keedy trait in a career that has brought almost 700 first class wickets, including 61 dismissals as Lancashire memorably won the County Championship title in 2011.
Despite such an illustrious record, helping Formby to success in their return to ECB Premier League is motivation enough for Keedy, who is enjoying being part of Cockbain's new look side.
He said: "Ian is brilliant. He's very positive and forward thinking and the kind of guy who you get out of bed and want to play for. He's a great bloke on and off the field. I'd heard so much about him and the way he plays the game and hopefully if people have identified us as a team not to lose against, some of the creative strategies he has will be good for us. It might mean us losing some games, but it might win us a few as well."
Playing positive cricket is clearly important to Keedy, who plainly isn't impressed by some of the tactics he's likely to come up against this season.
"I'm still trying to get to grips with how the game is played in the Liverpool Comp," he laughed. "Northern looked like from ball one they were setting out to not lose the game. We fielded for 70 overs and for me one day cricket is not about that. What the motives are for the timed game, I'm not sure, and if you look at how the World Cup went and where English cricket is in 50 over cricket, surely the grass roots and the ECB Premier Leagues should be mirroring what is going on in international cricket? There should at least be a fielding circle or some kind of restrictions because Northern had nine men on the boundary!"
For seasoned Liverpool Competition watchers, the sight of Keedy bowling in tandem with his former teammate and fellow spinner, Stephen Parry, might explain why, for many sides, it will be safety first on their trips to Cricket Path.
"When we were together at Lancashire a lot of our T20 success was based on the spin bowling and me and 'Pazza' were a good combination," said Keedy. "We bowl varying styles and we're effective in what we do. I was very excited when I heard we'd be together again because he is another lad you just want to play cricket with."
Keedy, who left Old Trafford in 2012 and is currently on the books at Nottinghamshire, clearly thinks a lot of his one time junior partner and feels he has some tough decisions ahead unless he can get regular first class cricket at Lancashire.
"I think Stephen's at a point where he needs to decide what he wants to do because he's good enough to be playing first class cricket," he said. "Lancashire are blessed with spin bowling options and that was the drive for me leaving. It must be disheartening to play a One Day International for England and then come back and have to captain the second XI. To put it into context, there are not many international cricketers doing that."
With his work as a physio at Notts, as well as his own "SpinScience" coaching school, Keedy is keeping busy, but it's clear that it's on the pitch where he still gets that buzz.
"I have committed to Formby for three years at least and will be playing every game," he added. "You get to an age where you get the golf clubs out and give it all up but I still want to play just as much as I did 20 years ago. It's all I've ever done and it's what I love doing. You're a long time retired and I don’t like using the 'r' word. Someone will have to tell me when I’m done."