Having finished seventh in Division Two last season, suffering the loss of key personnel over recent years, the young Sussex side seem to have come of age under the leadership of the run-machine that is Cheteshwar Pujara. He is the Championship’s top run scorer so far with 545 at 77.85, including three centuries from just seven innings. He has been joined in the middle order by Steve Smith, who is yet to make an impact and the good news for Sussex supporters is that Ollie Robinson looks like being back in action having been withdrawn from last week’s game at the request of the ECB. His 14 wickets against Worcestershire indicated his intent to show the England selectors that he is ready for the Ashes summer, and he will undoubtedly be looking to cause further pain for the Glamorgan batters. In the last round they were unable to bowl out Leicestershire second time around having enforced the follow on, with Tom Alsop scoring 182 not out in their first innings total of 430. Aristides Karvelas and Fynn Hudson-Prentice both took four wickets in the first innings, but they ran out of steam on day four.
Meanwhile Glamorgan recorded their first win of the season last week, having drawn their first four matches. Timm van der Gugten took his third fifer of the summer and Michael Neser made a vital 86 in the first innings. They have a strong batting line up and van der Gugten and Neser have provided a potent new ball attack, the former sitting second in the wicket taking statistics with 28 at 18.53. The change bowling has also stepped up in the last two games and they will need to be taking wickets as the season progresses with the likelihood that Neser will be called into the Australia squad for the early Ashes Tests.
Last season Glamorgan secured a five wicket win against Sussex at Cardiff, based on a first innings lead of 118, thanks to 176 from Eddie Byrom and 178 from Colin Ingram. They were left with a target of 141 which they reached for the loss of five wickets. They then met at Hove in the final game of the season and despite being asked to follow on, Sussex were able to hold on comfortably for the draw.
Both sides have strong batting line ups, but in Robinson’s last appearance against Glamorgan, back in 2021, he took 13 wickets to take Sussex to an eight wicket win. Smith has had a quiet start to the summer and Glamorgan will hope that this final match before the Tests start is not the one in which he decides to find his form. For Glamorgan, Neser and Marnus Labuschagne will be equally committed to finish their stint with the Welsh county on a high note.
With the strength of the two batting line ups, a positive result for either side is going to require the bowlers to step up. While Robinson is the big name in the Sussex attack, Fynn Hudson-Prentice has been quietly going about his business this summer. He was unfortunate to miss most of last season due to a stress fracture of his back, having returned to his home county in 2021. However, he has started this campaign well taking 24 wickets at 24.14 as well as contributing 152 runs at 30.4.
Glamorgan may be forced to rest van der Gugten and will therefore need more from the back up bowlers, in support of Neser. Jamie McIlroy’s left arm seam provides some much needed variety to the Glamorgan attack, in the absence of a front line spinner and he and James Harris have posed more of a threat in the last two games. They will be tested against the strong Sussex batting line-up.
Van der Gugten has played in all five games so far this season and Glamorgan will be looking at giving him a week off. Harry Podmore is the most likely replacement. As with all counties, the lack of second team cricket has made it difficult for players to push for selection.
Glamorgan squad: TBC
Robinson will come back in possibly at the expense of young Henry Crocombe, who has not had a rest so far this season.
Sussex squad: TBC
Weather and Conditions
Summer has finally arrived although there is a small chance of showers on day three.
With the improving weather the expectation is for the captain winning the toss to bat first. There should be plenty of runs around from two strong batting line ups.
Date: 18th April 2023
Ground: The 1st Central County Ground, Hove