Before the Hundred came along, Surrey reached three consecutive 50-over Lord’s finals. Even though they lost all of them, the Oval outfit had a reputation for being a one-day powerhouse
I was reminded of it after the 10-wicket mauling Lancashire dished out at Guildford last week, when Alec Stewart’s post-match assessment was similar to his comments following the second of those Lord’s finals, against Warwickshire in 2016, which the former England captain described as like finishing third in a two-horse race.
Perhaps it was fitting that the only bowler to take a wicket for Surrey in the two Metro Bank matches at Guildford was Dan Moriarty, who has just signed a three-year contract with Yorkshire and will be off at the end of a season in which, yet again, the 24-year-old has become a peripheral figure.
Four summers ago, someone who gets along to a fair amount of second 11 cricket said to me: “I’ve just seen a spinner who’ll be a regular for Surrey in years to come. His name is Moriarty.”
Dan was an unknown quantity. He was just starting to make waves for South Africa U19s when his family returned to England. But during the curtailed first summer of Covid, in 2020, he broke into the Surrey’s four-day side – taking 17 wickets at just 20.11 in two appearances – and was integral to the South Londoners reaching the final of the T20 Blast the same year.
Jamie Overton also made his Surrey debut in 2020 – after nine seasons with Somerset – and it soon became apparent the Oval outfit had acquired more than just a fast bowler. Overton also brought dynamism to the South Londoners’ lower order with the bat.
Perversely, it was signings like Jordan Clark, a seamer, in 2019, and Overton’s that meant Moriarty’s chances would be few and far between.
More than ever before, bowlers also need to be capable with willow in hand. Clark averages 28 with the bat in first-class cricket and Overton 22. Moriarty averages just nine, as does off-spinner Amar Virdi, whose career also appears to be at a crossroads despite being an ever-present when Surrey won the County Championship five years ago.
“It’s always disappointing when a player chooses to leave Surrey to go to another county,” said Stewart upon the announcement of Moriarty’s departure. “After numerous conversations with Mozza, I fully understand and respect the tough decision he has taken.
“He feels he will get more opportunities at Yorkshire to further his own career ambitions and I wish him well and thank him for the contributions he has given to Surrey.”
No county has seen as large a proportion of its players lost to The Hundred in recent summers, rendering Surrey ‘also rans’ in the 50-over one-day cup, which runs in parallel, even before a ball was bowled.
In this year’s Metro Bank, they were forced to turn to the likes of Luke Griffiths, a 17-year-old seamer, and Tommy Ealham, a 19-year-old off-spinning all-rounder just to get an 11 out on to the park.
The most disappointing aspect of Surrey’s dreadful one-day cup campaign was that despite occupying the same group as Hampshire (who lost 10 players to The Hundred), Lancashire (who lost seven), Notts (also seven) and Yorkshire (nine) the only one they took advantage of was Notts – and that was all down to Moriarty’s extraordinary three wickets in four balls at Welbeck, which must be a contender for champagne moment of the season.
PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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