A world where Luke Wright isn’t playing for Sussex is a strange one, but one we will all have to get used to as the Sussex stalwart has hung up his boots and moved on to become a national scout for the ECB. While Sussex will miss Wright’s contributions on the field they will also miss his leadership around the club too.
That leadership void will be filled by the excellent appointment of Paul Farbrace, who replaces Ian Salisbury as Head Coach. He is a man with huge experience having coached Sri Lanka, been Trevor Bayliss’ assistant with England and most recently as sporting director of Warwickshire, where they won the County Championship in 2021 under his tenure. He has inherited a young exciting squad and he is sure to place an emphasis on developing those players and returning Sussex to title challengers rather than also rans.
Last season saw the South Coast side finish 7th in both Division Two of the County Championship and the Vitality Blast South Group, disappointing results when you look at the resources at their disposal. Granted they are often deprived of those resources due to England call ups or injury, with players such as Archer, Robinson and Mills often absent, however they still have the quality to achieve more.
White ball cricket is where their best chance of those higher achievements lie this season. The squad is stacked with white ball talent in the experienced Ravi Bopara who captains the side in the T20 Blast along with Steven Finn and Delray Rawlins, coupled with young exciting talent such as Archie Lenham and it is easy to see how they can compete this season if injuries and call ups are kinder to them. Red ball cricket may well be a year of development as Farbrace looks to create a side that can compete across all formats for years to come.
Ins: Bertie Forman (YTH) Shadab Khan (Yorks) Nathan McAndrew (Warks)
Outs: Luke Wright (RET)
Key Player : Tom Haines has emerged as an excellent cricketer over the last two seasons, averaging over 47 in both 2021 and 2022. He narrowly missed out on the magic 1000 first class runs last year but will be hoping to achieve that again in 2023. Haines also chips in with a few useful wickets and has a touch of the golden arms, taking big wickets at the right times. Haines gained England Lions recognition over the Winter in Sri Lanka where he made an impressive century. He will be hoping another good season back on the South Coast can in the very least keep his Lions place intact if not push for a senior squad call up. Sussex will be hoping that he is not away from them too much over the Summer however as it is not only his batting and golden arm they will miss but his leadership as First Class and List A captain.
Player to Watch: Another of Sussex’sEngland Lion’s from the Winter was Irish born off break bowler Jack Carson, Carson broke into the side back in 2020, taking 15 wickets at an average of 22.66, and then cemented his place in the side the following season taking 40 First Class wickets at an average of around 37, not the most impressive figures, but the potential was there for all to see. Last season was blighted by injury, but that potential and previous exploits were enough to secure him a place on the trip to Sri Lanka where he impressed in the two First Class “Test” matches taking nine wickets at a shade under 35. Carson will be hoping to put his injury woes behind him and again show what he is capable of. If he does that then opposition batters should well be on their guard.
In the Championship Sussex will again have the ever reliable, ever impressive Che Pujara in their middle order. The Indian stalwart will be hoping for a similar return to last season. In 2022 Pujara amassed 1173 First Class runs at a Bradmanesque average of just under 98, Sussex will be hoping for a similar return again and nothing Pujara has ever done would suggest any different.
One of the more controversial overseas signings of the season is that of Australian batter and former captain Steve Smith who is available for four matches prior to the Ashes series this Summer. Whatever your opinion on the signing and the potential impact on the Test Match Summer, he should be a fantastic component for Sussex in his short stint and the other members of the squad will surely learn lots from him. When Smith isn’t available then Nathan McAndrew will be, although it is far from a like for like swap, McAndrew being a lively pace bowler who took 20 wickets in the county championship last season for Warwickshire. He will also be available throughout the Vitality Blast competition.
The final element of the Sussex overseas contingent is that of Shadab Khan, who after plying his trade in the Vitality Blast for Yorkshire last season has gone in search of some South Coast sunshine and Sussex will be searching for him to bring some of his vast T20 experience with him. The allrounder has scored over 200 international T20 runs and taken over 250 wickets as well. He will be a huge part of a Sussex push towards Finals Day.
Potential Starting XI
- A Orr
- T Haines (c)
- T Alsop
- C Pujara
- D Ibrahim
- O Carter (wk)
- F Hudson-Prentice
- G Garton
- N McAndrew
- J Carson
- H Crocombe
How they’ll fare
Expect Sussex to challenge in the white ball competitions, they simply have too much experience and talent in their white ball squads to have another season like last season, where the only bright spot was the semi final of the Royal London One Day Cup. For this season T20 Finals Day has to be a realistic target and expectation for Farbrace and his team. In red ball cricket expect a season of consolidation and development, a side that can compete, but one that may lack the consistency to make a challenge over the season, mid table may well be beckoning for the men from Hove in the County Championship Division Two.
LVCC Div 2 – Sussex CCC vs Durham CCC 6th April 11am 1st Central County Ground
Season Odds (www.skybet.com)
LV County Championship 4/1
Royal London One-Day Cup: N/A
Vitality Twenty20 Blast: 12/1