Dan Moriarty's debut season proves he will be a big part of Surrey's future
It is only a quirk of fate that Surrey’s exciting new left-arm spinner Dan Moriarty was born in the county – but the 20-year-old has already proved he will be a big part of Surrey’s immediate future in all formats during a brilliant debut season.
His talent and fiery, competitive nature has made an immediate impression at the Kia Oval, with club captain Rory Burns saying: “There’s a little bit of Gareth Batty about him, I think! Yes, he’s a great competitor and has done so well in this shortened season.
"He and Amar Virdi dovetail so well as a pair of frontline spinners and, as a partnership, they certainly give us some great options going forward as a team.”
Moriarty, born in Reigate, finished with match figures of 11 for 224 in Surrey’s Bob Willis Trophy victory against Sussex earlier this week and has also bowled impressively in the first part of the Vitality Blast campaign.
He also took five for 64 on his first-class debut in the first week of August, against Middlesex, and in just two Bob Willis Trophy appearances grabbed 17 wickets at an average of 20.11 runs apiece. It is also believed Moriarty is the first county cricketer in history to take three successive five-wicket hauls against other county teams in his first two first-class games.
Moriarty said: “It’s been a wonderful learning experience over the last month or so, and I feel very much at home at Surrey and privileged to be playing for such a great club.
“Yes, I was born in Reigate – which is a great coincidence – but my parents left to work in Botswana before my first birthday. Then, later, we moved as a family to South Africa. My father is English – he was born in London – and my mother is South African. After my 18th birthday I moved here to join Surrey and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it so far.”
Moriarty, who represented South Africa U19s in 2016, made his Surrey second XI debut last summer but has already shown he is ready for the step-up to the senior ranks. In the Blast, he has been tasked with bowling the first over several times – and, indeed, nothing seems to bother him or his strong, repeatable action.
Speaking of being given the new ball in Sussex’s second innings on Tuesday, which led to him bowling throughout their total of 128 for figures of six for 70 from 19 overs, Moriarty added: “I have opened the bowling quite a bit in white-ball cricket but not so much with the red-ball, although I did do it – with mixed results – in two Surrey second XI matches last summer when the conditions were conducive to spin.
“But it was an interesting experience (to do it against Sussex) and, actually, I think that being given the new ball like that with all the expectation it brings is a real privilege and one I really enjoyed.
“We learned quite a bit from our first innings, on that pitch, and I think both Amar and myself bowled at a better pace and we reaped the rewards. Obviously the new ball is hard and so you get a bit of extra bounce, especially in the first 15 overs or so.
“It was a great, learning experience to be able to do that and to bowl in tandem with Amar. He’s a tremendous bowler and we complement each other well and both just want to win games for the team.”
Surrey’s six-wicket win against Sussex, chasing down 156 in the fourth innings, was also a big boost for the club after four previous defeats in the competition. Burns, returning as captain and opening batsman after playing six Tests for England this summer, scored 103 and 52 and help to bring some much-needed stability after weeks of severe disruption from injuries, unavailabilities due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and a raft of call-ups to both England’s red-ball and white-ball squads.
No fewer than 21 players, indeed, were used by Surrey in their five Bob Willis Trophy fixtures, although a good number of other younger players in addition to Moriarty and 22-year-old off spinner Virdi, who took 22 wickets at 25.90, gained valuable experience while Ben Foakes, with 227 runs from four innings at 75.66, again underlined his batting class.