Surrey have today announced the signing of Lancashire left arm spinner Gary Keedy on a two year contract.
With Murali Kartik leaving at the end of the season, and an overseas batsman likely to be lined up for next season, a second spinner was high on the agenda for Chris Adams over the Winter period. In Gary Keedy, you have, at the age of 37, vast amounts of experience in County cricket, something that Adams wants to install in the dressing room. You also have high skill and ability, with him claiming over 650 First Class wickets at a tad over 31 apiece, with many describing him as the greatest spinner to have never played for England.
Keedy is Lancashire through and through, and many will struggle to find a reason to why he chose to leave them and come to the KIA Oval. One main reason would have been that he feels he still has plenty to offer in all forms of the game, and Lancashire were only playing him in List A cricket towards the end of the season. He played just the 4 Championship matches in 2012, claiming 7 wickets at an average of well over 50. Another reason is that the Oval pitch will suit his style of bowling, and along with Gareth Batty, we have two of the best English spinners of the last 10 years.
The signing of Keedy continues the trend set by Adams over the last couple of years, of signing highly experienced players in their mid to late 30’s. Vikram Solanki has of course already signed for the club from Worcestershire, and Jon Lewis signed in the summer of 2011, with all 3 boosting the average age at the club considerably. To be honest, I think that it is vital to have experienced campaigners such as Keedy and Solanki in your side. Yes, their best years our behind them, but they must feel that they can still perform at a high level. Look how old Ramps got until he started to fade away!
I understand the opinion of those who think that Keedy is too old, and that we should be looking towards the future, but having old heads in the dressing room is key to a successful team. Yes, I would rather they were perhaps 5 or 6 years younger, so that we would benefit longer from them, but for the immediate future they will play a big part in our team. The core of our club has been ripped out in the last 6 months, and it will need a lot of repairing to do.
We have the basis of a successful team in the future. At the end of the season we had Burns, Ansari and Harinath at the top of the order in the Championship, and the likes of Jewell and Edwards will without doubt be great Surrey players for the future. However, we need to concentrate on the here and now, and the signing of Keedy, along with Solanki and Lewis, will help the younger players and benefit our club for years to come.