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“There won’t be a No 1 spinner” says Yorkshire CCC head coach Ottis Gibson

Dom Bess remains very much in Ottis Gibson's plans despite the signing of Dan Moriarty. Photo by Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images.
Dom Bess remains very much in Ottis Gibson's plans despite the signing of Dan Moriarty. Photo by Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images.

Ottis Gibson, the Yorkshire head coach, said “there won’t be a No 1 spinner” after the club snapped up Moriarty from Surrey on a three-year deal.

Moriarty, 24, played four County Championship matches on loan at Yorkshire earlier this season while Bess, 26, went out the other way, joining first Warwickshire and then his former club Somerset on short-term loans.

Yorkshire’s subsequent decision to recruit Moriarty permanently from November 1, with the player wanting regular cricket after struggling to hold a place in Surrey’s Championship side, would seem to challenge Bess’s place in the hierarchy, but Gibson made clear: “There won’t be a No 1 spinner.

Dan Moriarty bowls during his loan spell at Yorkshire earlier this season. Picture by Allan McKenzie/
Dan Moriarty bowls during his loan spell at Yorkshire earlier this season. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

“Dom Bess is a very good all-rounder, and the conversations I’ve had with Dom, even from the start when Moriarty came as a loanee, is that Dom is a player that can bat at seven and bowl some off-spin. That then gives us the opportunity, in conditions that might suit, to play two spinners.

“When you play at Headingley, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to spin, then you play the person who is best suited to the Headingley conditions, whether that’s Bess or Moriarty.

“When we go away from home, perhaps, or even at home on a used pitch, there’s no reason why we can’t play both spinners; there’s no reason why I can’t say to ‘Robbo’ (Richard Robinson, the Yorkshire head of grounds), ‘listen, we’re playing against a team that has five seamers, let’s play on a used pitch because I want to use my two spinners.’

“The Moriarty signing gives us options. We’ve got, in our squad, several spinners - Dom Bess, Jack Shutt, young Jafer Chohan and also Adil (Rashid), but we didn’t have a left-arm spinner, so the opportunity to sign a quality left-arm spinner, to add to what we already have, to me was a no-brainer.

“Moriarty came and played a few games for us, fitted nicely into the dressing room and he gives us something completely different to what we have in the squad already. I think he will add really good value to that squad and make us competitive.”

Moriarty, who took a five-wicket haul on his Yorkshire debut against Gloucestershire at Headingley in June, has made only one Championship appearance for Surrey this season.

The champions are 23 points clear with three games left despite - with the exception of that sole appearance by Moriarty - having done without a specialist spinner.

Remarkably, only seven wickets have fallen to spin in their title defence - five to Will Jacks, one to Cameron Steel – who are principally batsmen – and the other to Moriarty.

Gibson believes Moriarty - tall, accurate and combative - will make Yorkshire less predictable as they seek to return to the Championship’s top flight.

“Of course, promotion is not going to happen this year because of the points deductions but also, perhaps, because of the way that we’ve played,” he said.

“It’s been quite one-dimensional at times, I feel, so the signing of Moriarty gives us another option that we don’t have to be this one-dimensional team playing three or four seamers on a certain type of pitch.

“It gives us more flexibility, and we also have to look at the type of squad that we want to build for five years and so on.

“Moriarty fits with the type of cricketer I like, and I’m sure that he’ll do well for us.”

Bess, who has a year left on his Yorkshire contract, admitted recently that it had been “a tough season” for him personally but ventured the view that the experience is “probably going to get the best out of me”.

He was ever-present in Yorkshire’s One-Day Cup campaign just completed, finishing as their third-highest run-scorer with 141 in four innings and six wickets in as many games.

Shutt, the 26-year-old off-spinner, who is a month older than Bess, topped the club’s bowling averages in the tournament with five wickets at 22.80, but leg-spinners Chohan and Rashid were unavailable due to the Hundred.

Chohan, 21, impressed in the T20 Blast but Rashid, 35, has not played for Yorkshire since June last year.

Bess, a Test cricketer as recently as March 2021, is used to having a left-arm spinner for competition, even if he and Jack Leach were often used in tandem when team-mates at Somerset.

Headingley is not quite the spinner’s paradise as Taunton, but there is little doubt that Yorkshire have all bases covered spin-wise, with two off-spinners, two leg-spinners and now a left-armer.

Like Rashid, who no longer plays first-class cricket, Bess is good enough to make significant contributions with the bat in the four-day game and has a first-class century to his credit plus 14 fifties.