What’s it really like being a professional cricketer, spending your working life in the Surrey dressing room? We asked five of our First-Team squad what the club means to them…
OUR ROUND TABLE…
Born: Chiswick, London
Role: Off-spin bowler
Surrey debut: 2017
39 first-class matches, 119 wickets at 29.55, 5 five-wicket hauls, 1 ten-wicket match, BBI 8-61; 210 runs at 8.75, HS 47
Born: Chertsey, Surrey
Role: Right-hand top/middle-order bat; off-spin bowler
Surrey debut: 2018
30 first-class matches, 1,142 runs at 29.28, 1 hundred, 9 fifties, HS 120; 4 wickets at 80, BBI 1-7
22 List-A matches, 506 runs at 24.09, 1 hundred, 2 fifties, HS 121; 11 wickets at 38.45, BB 2-32
77 T20 matches, 1,724 runs at 26.52, 12 fifties, HS 92*; 19 wickets at 26.26, BB 4-15
Born: Epsom, Surrey
Role: Right-hand top/middle-order bat; wicketkeeper
Surrey debut: 2018
26 first-class matches, 1,395 runs at 36.71, 4 hundreds, 4 fifties, HS 138
15 List-A matches, 425 runs at 42.50, 3 fifties, HS 85
25 T20 matches, 393 runs at 30.23, 3 fifties, HS 60
Born: Ipswich, Suffolk
Role: Left-arm fast-medium bowler
Surrey debut: 2020
13 ODIs, 20 wickets at 27.85, BB 4-50; 8 runs at 8, HS 6
10 T20Is, 8 wickets at 35.62, BB 3-24; 3 runs at N/A, HS 2*
43 first-class matches, 154 wickets at 26.61, 8 five-wicket hauls, 2 ten-wicket matches, BBI 6-29; 131 runs at 4.36, HS 16
58 List-A matches, 97 wickets at 25.90, BB 4-16; 55 runs at 9.16, HS 19
104 T20 matches, 131 wickets at 22.16, BB 4-20; 57 runs at 11.40, HS 14*
Born: Reigate, Surrey
Role: Left-arm orthodox spinner
Surrey debut: 2020
6 first-class matches, 35 wickets at 24.65, 4 five-wicket hauls, 1 ten-wicket match, BBI 6-60; 13 runs at 2.16, HS 8
10 List-A matches, 15 wickets at 23.30, BB 4-30; 8 runs at 4, HS 5
26 T20 matches, 28 wickets at 20.21, BB 3-25; 15 runs at N/A, HS 9*
WHAT DOES SURREY MEAN TO YOU?
Reece Topley: Quite a lot. My dad played first-class games for Surrey. I live up the road so it’s my home now. I’ve felt settled since day one because even when I played at other counties, I lived here, so it’s nice to play on your home patch.
Will Jacks: I think it’s the history of the club. I’ve played for Surrey since I was eight, so it’s about the hard work and dedication that’s gone into getting here. And it’s about continuing the legacy of the club. We’re just a small part of all the great players that have been here and we just want to try and become one of those and take the club forward even further.
Jamie Smith: It means everything really. It’s all I’ve known, growing up. Surrey invested a lot of time into me on the Academy, all the hours of coaching and the tours that we’ve been on since I was 13. It’s a club with such fantastic support from the members, so to win games for them and to play well is fantastic. Equally, when you don’t play well, it is tough. You feel you’ve let a lot of people down.
THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING A SURREY CRICKETER?
Topley: Playing with Gus Atkinson! He’s a Surrey legend already. Why? Oh, I can’t say anything!
Jacks: Playing at The Kia Oval. It’s got to be. And with full crowds back this year for T20 it should be unmatched. The only other places in the country would be Headingley or Old Trafford for those Roses games, but we get sold out even if we play on a Tuesday. There’s just no place like it.
Dan Moriarty: Yeah, it’s the opportunity to play at this ground. I’ve played at a few grounds now and there’s nothing quite like playing here and representing a club with so much history. It gives me a lot of pride to put on a Surrey shirt.
THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING A PROFESSIONAL CRICKETER?
Amar Virdi: I think, for me, it’s a lot to do with the younger kids from my own community that have someone now to grow up seeing. A lot of kids, they don’t even know how the county system works and a lot of people ask me, “What should I do? Do I need to go to this school to get noticed?” Because they’re from a small town in Southall or West London. They just don’t know what to do. For me to be able to give them that exposure and guidance… there’s been a few female cricketers from Asian communities that I managed to speak to Surrey [on behalf of] and get them trials and now they’re playing for Surrey. It means that other kids will get into the game, and they’ll play. There’s no hindrance for them to think, “Oh, I can’t play cricket”.
Jacks: It’s something that we’ve wanted to do our whole lives. So that’s the most rewarding thing, it’s like the hard work’s paid off; but obviously, you’ve still got to work and get better. That’s the best thing about it. You just love what you do.
Smith: The most rewarding thing is the victories, because you put so much time [into them]. It’s probably one of the only sports where you probably train more than you play. You spend half the winter indoors in a completely different environment. So when you do win, it’s a fantastic experience over four days.
THE TOUGHEST ASPECT OF BEING A PRO?
Moriarty: I think it’s the pressure to perform consistently. At the higher levels of the game, it’s difficult because there’s a lot of scrutiny. You can have a few bad games and be forgotten about or poorly spoken about. So it’s that kind of pressure to be relentless in performance and take opportunities when they come.
Virdi: I think there’s always that thing of, ‘If I don’t have a couple of good seasons, what could happen?’ The thing is, you’re always judged by your performances, and I think that you don’t really get a free ride anymore, if you ever did. With cricket, people can jump on you very quickly if you’re doing well and you’re young. Then things can go a bit quiet if you don’t continue at that pace.
Smith: The disappointment is when you don’t do well, because of the hard work that you know you’ve put in – and with people coming, watching you, supporting you over four days. The commitment’s outstanding. Even at Merchant Taylors’ the other day [for a pre-season game against Middlesex], people turned out in the freezing cold. Obviously it means a lot to them to come and watch you, so you want to try and put in your best performances all the time. When it doesn’t go right, you do feel disheartened.
Jacks: The hardest thing is definitely the long days, the county grind can get quite tiring at times. Everyone complains and whines about it but it’s the stuff we love doing.
THE BATTLE YOU’RE MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?
Topley: It’s always nice to play against Alastair Cook because I’ve played with him a lot. He’s almost like the gold standard of batting really, so it’s always nice to test your game against him. It’s a mental game because he’s very unrelenting and he rarely makes any false moves so it’s always a game of attrition which is a nice challenge, a different challenge.
WHO’S THE FUNNIEST IN THE DRESSING ROOM?
Topley: Jordan Clark, definitely.
Moriarty: I’d say it’s between Jordan and Gus Atkinson. I mean, they’re both really, really weird blokes. And that makes them funny! They’re very authentic in who they are and what they do. They always manage to get the boys to giggle. Cam Steel as well, he’s funny in an underrated way, he’s got a really nice sense of humour.
Virdi: Yeah, Jordan Clark. He comes up with some good one-liners now and again, when you’re not expecting it. I think the whole dressing room itself is quite a funny vibe, it’s not too serious. We all joke around with each other.
Smith: I think Sam Curran or Reece can come out with some good one-liners. Especially on the field…
WHO DO YOU SIT NEXT TO IN THE DRESSING ROOM?
Moriarty: I’m next to Tom Curran, Nathan Barnwell and Tom Lawes. We call it the Lion’s Den! Originally Gareth Batty sat next to me and they founded the Lion’s Den, so it’s a cool spot. It’s a nice group of guys.
Moriarty: Tom Curran is quite, you know, he’s quite vocal. Yeah, he brings a big presence into the room, but rightly so. He’s a big character and a big dog as we call him. It’s probably him.
Jacks: The loudest, Jason Roy. Doesn’t really need much explaining. He’s not even here most of the time but he’s still the loudest whenever he comes back. He just walks in and screams.
AND THE SMARTEST?
Moriarty: Wow. I’m trying to think who has a degree. It’s always tough, this one. You’re kind of ranking stones against stones! I think Rory Burns is quite diligent in how he reads and he just gives off quite an intellectual presence and even his sense of humour… yeah, I think I’d probably say him.
Jacks: Cam Steel, who’s just joined us. He fancies a quiz and a game of chess and stuff. So I’ll probably go for him.
Virdi: Topley’s quite smart. He’s quite well-read. I’d say that he knows a lot of things about a lot of things. As much as maybe people don’t think that!
Topley: Ha! Jacksy, Will Jacks. He’s like a calculator on legs!
Moriarty: This is a controversial thing in our changing room because we’ve got quite a variety of styles in the way people dress and present themselves. So we’ve got an edgy bunch, which is like Nick Kimber, Gus Atkinson, who are like the baggy corduroy kind of people. And they think that’s cool and then other people think that’s absolutely horrible. Most stylish, I would say, it’s probably between Tom [Curran] and Reece. They dress quite nicely. Tom can be a little bit loud, sometimes…
Virdi: Yeah, I’d say TC. I’m quite stylish with my sunglasses. I love sunglasses. Ray-Bans, Oakleys, Versace, everything…
Smith: TC’s got some out-there styles, but I quite like it. He pulls it off well.
Topley: Gus Atkinson!
AND FINALLY… WHO’S THE DRESSING ROOM DJ?
Topley: Me! I play all sorts, but I’m the only one with a speaker so I inherited it. First choice would be hip-hop, Kanye.
Moriarty: We kind of nationalised that system. We’ve all put in a few tracks to all the playlists which we’ve added but yeah, the resident DJ is probably Reece. He likes to gain control and he reads the room really well. He knows where to operate, and what kind of music people feel like. So he always manages to lift the mood and get the guys going. I go for quite groovy house music tracks with nice singing. Songs that people hear and be like, ‘OK, this is nice’. If you’re having a slow morning, it’s nice just to lift the spirits a little bit. Get the blood pumping, get ready to get out there.