Simon Kerrigan's England Recall Could Come at Wrong Time for His Confidence

Tim Collins@@TimDCollinsFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2014

England's Simon Kerrigan returns to his mark to bowl to Australia's Steven Smith, unseen, during play on the first day of the fifth Ashes cricket Test at the Oval cricket ground in London, Wednesday, Aug.  21, 2013.  (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Simon Kerrigan has probably spent the better part of 12 months trying to banish the memories of his horrific Test debut against Australia last August.

If there has ever been a more painful maiden performance for one's country, it's mighty hard to remember. 

Seemingly paralysed with tension, the left-armer's action fell apart as quickly as his confidence on that first afternoon at The Oval, serving up the sort of stuff you're more likely to see in the local nets from a part-time tweaker in the Seconds. 

Doing what he does best, Shane Watson emerged from the hole that James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan had pushed him into, thumping Kerrigan to all corners of South London in an oh-so-Watson dead-rubber hundred. 

"Eight overs, 0 for 53" read the scoreboard by the end of it, with Alastair Cook eventually saying enough is enough by banishing the spinner into the deep for the remainder of the Test. 

Coincidentally, that fateful selection of Kerrigan marked the beginning of England's ongoing slide, with the fourth Test of that summer at Chester-le-Street—the match before the spinner's forgettable debut—the last time Cook's men enjoyed success in whites. 

Now, however, England could possibly turn to Kerrigan again, with the 25-year-old recalled to the national squad ahead of the second Test against India at Lord's starting on Thursday. 

Frankly, the timing looks poor. 

Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Typically, it's desirable to test promising talents in demanding environments, with the results often giving an indication of the player's aptitude for combating pressure. 

But what Kerrigan endured in his first outing last August was extremely rare.

Sure, debutants before him have struggled, and in that regard he definitely won't be the last. Yet the manner of the left-armer's humiliation at The Oval last summer has placed a premium on ensuring the 25-year-old is used in favourable circumstances for his second Test—a performance that could, if it goes wrong, prematurely end his international career. 

An outing at Lord's (notable for its honours boards missing the two greatest spinners of all time in Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan) against Indian batsmen (the finest collection of players against spin in the game) hardly seems like that opportunity. 

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 09:  Murali Vijay of India steers the ball to cover during day one of the 1st Investec Test between England and India at Trent Bridge on July 9, 2014 in Nottingham, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Not at a time when English grounds are serving up lifeless featherbeds to ensure ticket sales are made for all five days amid the ridiculousness of the ECB's bidding process for Test matches. 

Not when the tourists are fresh from scoring a combined 848 runs in the first Test of the series, already looking supremely comfortable against another inexperienced tweaker in Moeen Ali.

Not when the possibility of Kerrigan's failure—or the lack of trust likely to be shown in him by Cook—could heap even more overs on Anderson and Broad.

Not when those around him need their own confidence boosts.

Not when he could be made the scapegoat for another disappointing England performance.

Not when the spinner's first-class record this season has him claiming his wickets at almost 75 balls apiece. 

And not when the player himself has admitted that he's not currently bowling the way he'd like. How do you think that wavering confidence might fare against the subcontinental stars, most of whom own finer Test records with the bat than Australia's Watson?

Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Still stinging from his visit to the furnace last time around, the last thing Kerrigan needs is to be dropped in again when the flames are even hotter. 

Simply, there's little to be gained from that.

After enduring a uniquely harrowing Test debut, the sink-or-swim mentality isn't appropriate for the young spinner. His reintroduction to Cook's side must be carefully planned, not done on the hop due to concerns over the workloads of others.

And while England desperately need to find a replacement for the recently retired Graeme Swann, there's not even the smallest chance that it will ever be Kerrigan if he's served up as India's main course at Lord's.