BY MARCUS HOOK
Amar Virdi believes Surrey’s win over Gloucestershire not only gives the South Londoners momentum going into the Vitality Blast, but also for the remaining Group 2 matches in the County Championship in July.
The 22-year-old off-spinner took 3-46 and 4-96 in the innings and 47-run victory over the Bristolians last weekend.
Fellow spinner Dan Moriarty took eight wickets in the match, including a career best 6-60 in the first innings. But the foundation was putting 473 on the board, with stand-in skipper Hashim Amla making 173.
“It was a fantastic performance by the whole team,” said Virdi. “It was a key win for us. It was against the side topping the group and because it now gives us great momentum going into the start of the T20 Blast and then into our final two championship group games later on.
“It was good to win the toss on that pitch. It was an important toss to win, but every single player put in a tough performance and we were dominant over the four days. It was definitely a good way to end that run of eight championship games.
“Hash led the way brilliantly by batting time on that pitch and also with his captaincy. It was also great for me to bowl again in partnership with Dan. We complement each other and enjoy winning games for Surrey.
“The way Hash led from the start, he did amazingly well. It showed what batting time on that wicket can do. We grinded them into the ground for 158 overs and when they came out the pressure was on them.
“When you’ve got a pitch that’s in your favour, with a bit of turn, it’s nice when you’ve got two bowlers who complement each other. It brings something different to the team to have threats from both ends.
“In the first innings we also managed to keep the runs tight. It wasn’t a case of taking wickets and leaking runs, so we built a lot of pressure on the batters.
“That helped us enforce the follow-on, firstly, and to be able to bowl more freely in the second innings. We didn’t have to worry about batting again on a day four pitch.”
Also pleasing was the level of performance Surrey achieved in the absence of Rory Burns, Ben Foakes and Ollie Pope, who had been called up to England’s Test squad, as well as the returning IPL players Sam Curran, Tom Curran and Jason Roy.
“One thing we’re quite lucky with at Surrey is that we’ve got quite a big squad,” said Virdi.
“There’s a lot of good players and we’ve got a very strong work ethic, whether boys are playing every week or for the twos.
“You do miss some of the big players, but we have a lot of good ones behind them. We’re not solely reliant on guys that are playing international cricket; we’ve got a strong core of county players as well.”
South East Stars have made a mixed start to the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy campaign. Having crushed Sunrisers by 135 runs at Chelmsford, the Stars were then brought back down to earth at Beckenham on Monday by the defending champions Southern Vipers.
Sophia Dunkley smashed an unbeaten 104 off 93 balls against Sunrisers to send the Stars to a record highest Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy total of 324-7 before her captain and fast bowler Tash Farrant took 5-33.
Vipers had the Stars in a spin, literally, with Vipers’ Charlotte Taylor – last year’s leading wicket-taker in the Trophy – taking 4-21 to set-up a seven-wicket victory, after the hosts could only muster 137.
“It was a disappointing day,” said South East Stars head coach Johann Myburgh. “We didn’t bat as well as we know we can. It was a good pitch and we needed about 250 to be competitive.
“Taylor has bowled well in the games she played last year and has started this season well again. Players are still a bit tentative against her.
“I would have liked to see a bit more intent at the top.”
MIDDLESEX v SURREY
Roy, Amla, Jacks, Evans, Smith (wk),
S Curran, Abbott, T Curran, Batty (capt), Moriarty, Topley.
Stirling, Eskinazi, Morgan, Cracknell, Simpson (wk), Hollman, Helm, Sowter, Mujeeb, Finn (capt), Murtagh.
Will Jacks (Surrey) – Delivered with bat and ball in last year’s Vitality Blast, scoring 309 runs at an average of 34.33 and taking 13 wickets at 16.07.
Paul Stirling (Middlesex) – the Irishman returns to north London with T20 form in the bank against Surrey – from the days when he wasn’t deemed an overseas player – including his career best 109 (off just 58 balls) at the Oval in 2018.
Last year, Surrey reached their fourth T20 final. Sadly, the only one they have gone on to win remains the inaugural one, back in 2003. Surrey took the spoils in both of the all-London T20 meetings in 2020 – by six wickets at The Oval and 30 runs at Lord’s. But their T20 record in NW8 before that was five successive defeats.
Dan Moriarty’s 6-60 in Gloucestershire’s first dig saw him join a list of just 11 players to have taken four or more 5-fers in their first five innings in first-class cricket. Moriarty and Bob Langford (Somerset, 1953) are the only two since 1932.
Hashim Amla – whose 173 seemed to leave Gloucestershire scarred. But the South African could not have done it without help from the lower order of Jamie Overton, Sean Abbott and Rikki Clarke.
Moriarty and Virdi taking two wickets apiece in the space of 30 balls on the second afternoon, to pull the rug from under the visitors, who went from 84-1 to 89-5.
June 10: Middlesex v Surrey at Lord’s (Vitality Blast)
June 11: Somerset v Surrey at Taunton (Vitality Blast)
PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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