Where are they now: Gary Keedy
Former Red Rose spinner on life post-cricket
Gary Keedy starred with ball and many times bat, but it was his direct hit run out of Somerset’s Gemaal Hussain from point which etched him into Lancashire folklore as it proved the pivotal moment as the county won their first Championship title in 77 years back in September 2011.
Left-arm spinner Keedy, a Yorkshire-born Red Rose legend, claimed 654 first-class wickets for the county, added to 114 in List A cricket and 72 in Twenty20.
Signed by then coach David Lloyd from Yorkshire in 1995, Keedy left Emirates Old Trafford in late 2012 to move to Surrey and then Nottinghamshire, where the first signs of his post cricket career became clear.
After a year at the Oval, Keedy went to Trent Bridge as a spin bowling consultant and a physio for the second XI and Academy teams. He would also be registered as a player, but his off-field duties were the focus.
After sporadic appearances for Notts, he announced his retirement from the game at the end of 2015 to concentrate on other commitments having studied physiotherapy at Salford University, a degree which he started whilst at Lancashire.
Now, having started his own coaching business called Spin Science and later spent time working at Beardwood Private Hospital in Blackburn, he is working as a Surgical Sales Representative for American company Stryker.
“I worked at Beardwood as a physio for a while,” he explained. “I worked in outpatients, where I’d look after the normal injuries. But the majority of it was in elective surgery, people who’ve had knee and hip replacements, shoulder operations, back operations. I was rehabbing them.
“I enjoyed that, but I’ve moved on again. I’m working for an American company called Stryker, who are into medical technologies. They’re a big player in the medical devices world. I work for them as a sales rep, providing solutions to hospitals.
“There’s a lot of travelling involved up and down Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man, which is all in my area. It’s about building relationships with surgeons and key stakeholders at hospitals. That fits with my clinical background. I’ve been doing it five months and love it.
“It’s a strange feeling. It’s ultimately a sales company. That’s what it’s all about. But I’ve not felt as good as this since I played cricket.
“It’s very results driven, targets, working in a team. The highs and lows are pretty similar to my cricket, and nothing had replaced that since I finished. It’s been good for me. There’s a lot of correlation between sport and business in every sense.”
Keedy is not doing any physio at present given the demands of his job, although he is studying for a Masters at Salford University in Trauma and Orthopedics: “I’ve got a Post Grad in that - spinal specific, and the PCA helped me out with it,” he explained.
Keedy’s interest in physiotherapy started long before he left Lancashire.
“I’d had a couple operations in 2003 and 2004, and it was around about then that I started thinking about what was around the corner having had a few injuries,” he continued.
“I used to watch Sam (Byrne, Lancashire’s physio) work and how he went about his business, and I enjoyed it. I’m not saying I wanted to be a sports physio, but I was interested and made some investigations about what I needed to do.
“I guess the long and short of it is that I’m not Peter Pan and knew I’d have to grow up one day and get a job!
“Do I want to be a physio? I still don’t know the answer to that question. But what it has done is create a pathway to allow me to evolve and bring me to where I am now.”
One of county cricket’s best ever players never to wear an England shirt - although he was close on a few occasions - Keedy is still involved in cricket.
He currently plays in the Liverpool Competition at Southport and Birkdale having moved from Formby.
And he has a pretty big admission having taken 58 wickets last summer.
“Ironically, I’m probably bowling as well as I’ve ever bowled,” he said. “I’m not as fit as I was and get tired quicker. But, in terms of ability, I still feel like I’m getting better.
“It’s a strange feeling. Peter Moores summed it up. You start as a kid and then get the rollercoaster ride of being a professional cricketer until your late thirties. Then, just as you’re finishing, you just get it. Since I’ve finished, I’ve got it. I know my action and my game, what I’m trying to do.
“You speak to batsmen and the only thing that lets them down is their eyes. They don’t lose their ability to play a cover drive. I guess bowling’s the same.
“I’ve really enjoyed it at Southport.
“I had three good years at Formby, but I fancied a change when Ian Cockbain retired as captain.
“I re-evaluated what I wanted out of cricket, and giving back to a young group of players was more my objective. Southport had just got relegated and pretty much had under 16s, 17s and 18s as their first team with the odd older player. They approached me and asked me to instil my knowledge across all levels from under 11s upwards.”
Going back to Keedy’s Peter Moores reference for a moment. Lancashire’s title-winning coach without doubt had a massive influence on the left-armer’s career.
He explained: “Over my career, there were lots of people who changed my outlook, and Peter was the real driving force for me.
“If I could have had the moment I met him 10 years earlier, I wonder what could have been. But I don’t dwell on it. I had a really enjoyable career.
“From meeting him to what I achieved afterwards in such a short period was phenomenal really. I can probably speak on behalf of a few people who will echo those words. Peter has got so many good qualities in how he shaped us as players and men, shaping lives beyond playing. He knows how to do it.”
And on Lancashire’s current situation, Keedy, whose daughter Erin is a leg-spinner for the county’s under 11s side, is confident Glen Chapple can lead a fightback from Championship relegation.
He added: “The fact that the lads have been relegated, it doesn’t mean they’re bad players. Look at us in 2011 and 2012. They’ve taken a lot of criticism, but losing a quarter of the division through means is tough.
“Surrey were exceptional, but everybody else were very close. Win or lose a couple and you can go from near the top to near the bottom, which is what Nottingham did.
“They’ll be back. They just need time. Lancashire are a massive club with great expectation, but we also have a lot of young players who are still learning.
“I think Glen’s done brilliant in bringing those players through and giving them an opportunity. I look at my last year when Alex Davies was a 17-year-old coming through. He’s one of the best players around now. He must be knocking the door down. There are plenty of other examples too.”
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