We’ve all experienced it: someone comes into our life, makes a huge impression on us and then leaves as quickly as they came. It might be an acquaintance, a teacher, colleague or even a lover. For Derbyshire County Cricket Club, that someone has been Connor Mckerr.
McKerr arrived at the 3aaa County ground on 31st of May on an initial 28 day loan from Surrey, a 19 year old fast bowler, who had represented South Africa at under 19 level, but had yet to make his first class debut although he did come with a reputation for bowling fast and nasty. Fast and nasty is what Derbyshire needed, with their own fast and nasties out injured until the end of June and struggling to take wickets. McKerr answered the call.
The call that McKerr answered was unexpected and one that he couldn’t say no to, as he recalled saying “It was overnight.”
He added: “I‘d been playing for Surrey seconds and I got a phone call from Alec Stewart, saying he would like me to play some first class cricket if there was an opportunity for me to do so somewhere around the country.
“An hour later he phoned me back saying there was an opportunity to go to Derbyshire, on an initial 28 day loan period, and I said “yeah I’d love to. ““
Mckerr knew Gary Wilson, who arrived from Surrey in the Summer, but didn’t feel the need to check with him if it was a good move.
“There was no need, It was a definite yes from me. To be able to play first-class cricket – it was a no brainer. I spoke to him after but I knew I wanted to go as soon as I heard.”
Every cricketer wants to test themselves at the highest level and play first class cricket, and dreams of doing well on their debut, and when Mckerr had Jake Libby caught in the slips on his fourth ball he couldn’t have dreamt of a better start to his first class career.
Talking about his first wicket he said: “You run through different scenarios in your head for taking wickets, but when you nick off a batsman in the first over it doesn’t get much better than that.”
It did, however, get better than that for Mckerr as he went on the take three more wickets in his debut match versus Nottinghamshire, and ten wickets in his second match against Northants, becoming the youngest Derbyshire bowler to take ten wickets in a match.
Mckerr isn’t taking anything for granted when it comes to first class cricket, though.
“Its definitely not easy,” he said, “It’s a proper case of beginners luck. It’s been a massive learning curve.”
And when asked about the difference between second team cricket and first class cricket, he was keen to point out the differences.
“The biggest difference is consistency. Consistency with batsmen, and how they are putting away bad balls no matter what the situation, and consistency with the bowlers in how they bowl in brilliant areas not only on their third, fourth, fifth spells in the day.
“That, for me, has been the biggest learning curve. You have to be able to bowl 30 overs in a day perfectly or you’re just going to get murdered.”
Mckerr feels he is returning to Surrey a better player, thanks to his time with Derbyshire.
“Knowing how precise you have to be,” he said, “how calm you have to be through every situation, with my batting to fielding; learning how focused you have to be. I think absolutely everything has made me better.”
Surrey will also be hoping he returns a better player, and pushing for selection in their first team.
“I’ve got an opportunity to be picked in the squad for the next championship game and then, if the coaches and staff think the wicket is conducive to me, then hopefully I’ll play.
“If the opportunity does come, then I just want to take it.”
If Mckerr does take such an opportunity, Surrey will be thanking Derbyshire for their help in his development.
McKerr clearly enjoyed his time with the Falcons and was very impressed by the players in the squad, especially his opening bowling partner Tom Taylor.
“I really enjoyed bowling with Tommy Taylor. I think our partnership together upfront with the new ball, it was really good for me to have someone like that who is really young too.
“He was one of the guys who really impressed me.”
McKerr also heaped praise on the club’s senior players, especially Wayne Madsen, captain Billy Godleman and wicketkeeper Daryn Smit.
“With the gloves, he [Smit] was unbelievable. Some of the catches he took off me were just amazing.
“Again he made it easier for me. I took wickets that, on a lot of occasions, wouldn’t have been wickets because they were just unbelievable catches. He is incredible. Having someone behind the stumps who is so good is really reassuring for a bowler.”
It was those wickets, 14 in all, that prompted Surrey to recall McKerr from his loan spell early. But he is not ruling out a return to Derbyshire in the future.
“They have a really good quality squad, so if it’s possible and on the cards, going back on loan for a month or two would be great.”
I’m sure Derbyshire’s coaches, players and fans would be keen to see him back in Derbyshire colours again. His stay may have been short but he certainly had an impact, taking wickets himself and also proving to be an excellent foil for the other bowlers. With McKerr in the side, Derbyshire took 20 wickets in consecutive games for the first time in a season and a half.
So as McKerr heads back down the M1 to London, negotiating the inevitable road works, Derbyshire fans can be sad that he’s leaving. Or they can enjoy the time they had together, like a holiday romance, and live in hope that maybe, just maybe, their paths will cross again and they can continue their relationship.
Or, if nothing else, wish Connor good luck and say “thank you” for his efforts while here for those two games.