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CRICKET: Keedy the key; Spinner praised as Lancs beat Surrey.

Byline: SIMON WILSON

LANCASHIRE captain Warren Hegg and cricket manager Mike Watkinson heaped praise on Gary Keedy as they reflected on their eight-wicket victory over Surrey in the Frizzell County Championship.

The left-arm spinner may have done little of note yesterday -his contribution amounted to one delivery and a catch before Lancashire raced to their target of 135 -but his all-round efforts were pivotal to Lancashire inflicting on the champions a first defeat in more than a year.

Keedy took four wickets in 12 balls on Thursday as Surrey were reduced to 137-8 -they added just one more run yesterday morning -finishing with match figures of 7-119.

He also made quite an impact with the bat,his occupation of the crease allowing Carl Hooper to reach his century and steer Lancashire past Surrey's first-innings total of 337. Keedy made just one of the 79 runs the pair put on for the last wicket.

Hegg said: ``Gary Keedy had a great game. Some people have said he can't field and he can't bat,but he played his part in the last-wicket stand,and he took a catch today.

``His bowling has been fantastic this year and last. His control has been good and he has been getting out key batsmen.''

Watkinson was equally effusive about the performance of a player who has been touted as a possible replacement for out of -formAshley Giles in the England side.

``Whenever somebody has a good period he is going to get talked about for an England place,''Watkinson said.

``But Keeds is still an improving player. He has done some technical work and he has got the rewards for that.

``He is also beginning to believe in himself,and knows that he can get the best players out.

``Maybe there was a little bit of intimidation from the world's leading players during his first few years. It can be a bit off putting when you see what they can do to even the best spinners, but he is growing into the role now.''

Watkinson also pointed to the importance of substantial first innings totals in Keedy's development from second XI bowler to international candidate.

``We have got runs on the board this season and Keeds has really reaped the rewards,''Watkinson added.

``We averaged 273 in the first innings last year,and I think we are near to double that this season. If Keeds gets hit for six it doesn't matter so much any more.''

CAPTION(S):

Lancs bats man Iain Sutcliffe lofts Surrey's Saqlain Mustaq at Old Trafford yesterday
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 30, 2003
Words:426
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