BY MARCUS HOOK
It’s often said that if Surrey fast bowler Matt Dunn didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.
Four weeks ago, against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, the 27-year-old marked his first County Championship appearance in 13 months by reaching the landmark of 100 first-class wickets.
A string of injuries that reads like a checklist meant it had taken him exactly nine years. That’s an average of just over 11 wickets a season. But now Dunn senses his time has come.
“Frustrating is the only word I can use to describe how the last few years have been,” said Dunn. “But it’s professional sport and it can happen. I’m still the ripe age of 27, so there’s nothing to panic about too much.
“I’ve always thought at some point the stars will align, and there will be a moment for me. Now I’m fit and healthy and on a good run, let’s keep that going.”
But even this season he has had to overcome a debilitating illness, caused by treatment for problematic wisdom teeth.
“Unfortunately, like everything with me, the timing wasn’t the best,” said the fast bowler.
“First, my back left wisdom tooth got infected. Antibiotics cleared it up, then we went to Dubai for pre-season and the right one got infected, so I had to have them both out. It set me back, which was frustrating, but nothing I haven’t had to face up to before.”
Dunn has taken 13 championship wickets in three outings at an average of 21.30, including a personal best 5-43 against Somerset at Guildford.
“It’s been a few years, but obviously it was amazing to get a career best and I was very proud to do that,” he said.
“But it’s not something I could have done without the other bowlers. It was my day, but it could be another guy’s another day.
“After an average start from us [against Somerset] we knew as a bowling group we had to go out there, be aggressive and put the ball in the right area over and over again. It turned into a good third day, but we knew it was going to need a lot of hard work to chase down 267.
“The pitch [at Guildford] offered throughout both games and from our point of view we didn’t want to go out there and almost strive too hard. We knew we had to be disciplined and work together, and we did that.
“It’s about putting as many balls as you can in the right area and nailing the basics well. It’s not rocket science. They try to make out it is, but if you aim to hit the top of off stump as many times as you can, you’ll get results.
Dunn added how great it is that he is now one of the ones covering for the absence of others.
“I love playing for Surrey,” he said. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and to perform for them. At times like these, when injuries have been an issue, I’m so happy it’s me stepping in and doing what’s required.
“I look at last year and a lot of the guys hardly missed a game. Coming into this year it was always going to be tough, so it’s nice to put in the performances we’ve needed.”
The 27-year-old also spoke of what it is like to be operating at the other end to one of the best fast bowlers in the world, in Morne Morkel.
“It’s an absolute pleasure. It’s amazing to speak to him. The career he’s had has been unbelievable.
“As bowlers he’s very different to me and that’s what we try to do – to complement each other as well as we can.
“When the pitch is offering, he can scare them and I can get them out!”