Dan Lawrence: Surrey the only club I’d have quit Essex to play for


New boy Dan Lawrence says Surrey were the only side he would have entertained joining following nine seasons at Essex.

The 26-year-old, who has played 11 Tests, also believes his move to the Oval will lead to an international recall, after watching England’s last two series from the sidelines.

Despite taking just 24 wickets in 119 first-class appearances, his new head coach Gareth Batty has backed Lawrence to become a genuine all-rounder.

“To be honest the only club I would have moved to was Surrey,” said Lawrence. “I was part of a very successful team at Essex, so it wasn’t about the winning side of it.

“It’s great to be here and hopefully contending again, but as soon as Surrey came knocking it was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down.

“When the talks first started happening, it was obviously a very tough decision to leave Essex, but everyone I spoke with understood it was the right decision, and a pretty quick decision.

“I scored my maiden first-class hundred at The Oval and it’s obviously a great place to bat, plus I’ve also done well here in T20. The appeal of turning up here on a Thursday or Friday night for a T20 and there being 20,000 people is really exciting.”

Lawrence signed a three-year contract with Surrey. He played for Essex’s first-team from the age of 17.

“My time at Essex was amazing, and I will cherish a lot of great memories, but I felt for the benefit of my career it was time to explore somewhere else,” said Lawrence. “It’s great coming to a club that’s really successful and has won a lot in the last few years and to be around a lot of like-minded players.

“The appeal of batting at The Oval is quite a big thing for me. The wickets are very good and it allows you more of an opportunity to make big bulk runs.

“Obviously, it’s been frustrating running the drinks quite a lot for England – it’s been 10 Tests in a row where I’ve sat there and watched.

“While it’s been great to be there, I’d obviously love to have played and I feel coming to Surrey gives me the opportunity to play for England again. It is tough thinking and knowing you can impact every game you play, but I’m just waiting for my turn and for that chance to pop up.”

Batty added: “I think Dan could be a very fine all-rounder, given more opportunity. I hope we can provide that. But if our big lads keep taking wickets at regular intervals, it’s hard to get on. But the intention is we want to involve our spin department to play a bigger part this season.”

Lawrence has responded to Batty’s comments. He said: “That was part of the reason I made the move. Obviously, Essex have got the best spinner in the country in Simon Harmer and my opportunities didn’t really come.  He’d bowl the overs and take so many wickets that I never really got the chance.

“I think I’ll get a bit more opportunity here in the red-ball and especially white-ball.

“That was a big part of the move because if you’re taking a few wickets as well as scoring runs, your chances of playing international cricket increase.”

In Surrey’s weather-affected curtain-raiser at Old Trafford it was a case of point proved, with both Lawrence (4-91) and fellow spinner Cameron Steel (5-25) recording career bests as Lancashire were bowled out for 202.

Batty said: “For Dan to come in on debut and to really put in a shift was great.

“Both Cam and Dan are very skilled spinners, but because we have a very good seam attack, the spinners don’t always get a go. They both got a go here and they were magnificent.

“For Dan to have done what he did – to show that level of control and skill when bowling against a very strong team for such a long period of time – was exceptional.

“Nothing has been won yet, but it’s a very nice confirmation that we’re on the right track again.”


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