IF Somerset win the County Championship title over the next fortnight on Jason Kerr’s watch, then Tonge and the Bolton League should be proud to have played a walk-on part.

Bolton-born Kerr’s cricket grounding came in the league through the eighties and early nineties before moving to Taunton to chase his county dream at the age of 17.

A seam bowling all-rounder who also played for Derbyshire during a 10-season first-class career between 1993 and 2002, Kerr is now coaching the Championship leaders, who are eight points clear of second-placed Essex with two games left.

It would be Somerset’s first-ever Championship title.

“I’ve been connected to this club for a long time in various guises, and I’m very aware of what it means to people to be so close to the title,” he said.

“We’ve played some really good cricket, but we just need to take it day by day.

“We’ve won one trophy already this year (the Royal London one-day Cup), and we’re a couple of weeks away from another. It’s very special.”

Kerr, now aged 45, moved to Somerset in 1992.

Reflecting on growing up in Bolton, Kerr, whose younger brother Andy is now playing at Greenmount and his dad Lenny is still a league umpire, said: “My childhood was spent at Tonge. We lived a stone’s throw away.

“I played all the age-groups and second-team cricket there and in the first team. But I didn’t play long in the firsts because I came to Somerset in 1992 when I was 17.

“I remember in 1990 we won the Hamer Cup. We played Greenmount in the final at Bradshaw and Gary Neville played.

“I absolutely loved it up there. I don’t get back too often, but I try to keep an eye on what my brother and Tonge are doing. My recollection of the Bolton League was that there were some huge names as pros.

“You had Vasbert Drakes, Rod Estwick, Sylvester Clarke and Ottis Gibson in the league. I also remember Mark Taylor when I was a kid.

“I always remember it as very competitive cricket.

“I copped some serious abuse as a youngster playing, but it was a great breeding ground to come up against the wily old pros.

“When I first moved down here and played for a club, it was very social and polite. I thought, ‘This is very different’.”

Kerr, in his second season as Somerset’s head coach, briefly played second-team cricket for Lancashire, but their strength meant he looked elsewhere for opportunity. Ronnie Irani, another Boltonian, was a contemporary.

“I actually played a second-team game for Lancashire against Somerset at Taunton in 1991, and we got beat horribly,” he recalled.

“Andy Caddick played for Somerset and Kenny Benjamin, the West Indian, was on trial. We got bowled out for 50 second innings.

“I then signed here and made my first-class debut against the touring Australians in 1993 and got 3-70.

“David Boon was my first first-class wicket. That was the year Shane Warne emerged. They are very fond memories.”

Kerr’s story is further proof that Bolton is undoubtedly a hotbed of cricket, with Josh Bohannon’s maiden first-team century coming for Lancashire last week another example.

“Josh has done well,” added Kerr. “That’s great for him.”