Sussex Season Preview 2024

Sussex Season Preview 2024

Sussex’s youngsters have progressed under the leadership of Cheteshwar Pujara and last summer was a big improvement on 2022, finishing third in Division Two of the Championship. Scarcity of wins was a common feature for the sides chasing the top two and Sussex will be looking for more wickets from the bowlers.

Ollie Robinson played only three Championship matches and given his lacklustre performance in his one Test in India, he will likely be making more regular appearances at Hove this summer. When firing he is able to wreak havoc in county batting line ups.

In his absence it was Ari Karvelas who led the wicket taking with 35 from eight games. Alongside Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Nathan McAndrew, the other seam options included Henry Crocombe and Sean Hunt, both just 22-years-old and Scotland international Bradley Currie who is 25. They have time to develop, but in the absence of Robinson, the attack lacked consistent bite. In order to fill some of this this gap, Sussex were in the process of signing the experienced Leicestershire seamer Chris Wright, but he eventually pulled out of the deal. They have also lost George Garton to Warwickshire, although his appearances for Sussex have been few and far between because of injury.

Reinforcements for the first half of the season come in the form of two overseas quicks. West Indies Test bowler Jayden Seales had been due to appear for Sussex last year, but was forced to remain at home with a knee injury. He made his Test debut at 19 years of age and has taken 37 wickets in 10 appearances. He will play up until 8th June, encompassing the opening seven Championship games and the first three Blast fixtures. McAndrew, who returns for to Hove for a second year, will arrive on June 1st and is due to be available until the end of July. There have been no announcements regarding the second half of the season.

Off spinner Jack Carson also had a profitable season, taking 31 championship wickets, albeit at an average of 40.32. However, as with so many of this squad, he is still in his early twenties and can only get better.

The young batting line-up have all moved forward, with seven of the squad managing more than 600 runs in the Championship last year. It was one of the older contingent who led the way, Hudson-Prentice making 953 runs at 47.65. Unfortunately they will be losing one of their Academy graduates, with Ali Orr moving along the coast to Hampshire.

Test commitments meant Pujara was only able for eight matches, but he still amassed 649 runs. He returns for a third season, but just for the first seven Championship games. Over the winter he has been in form in the Ranji Trophy, where he was third highest scorer with 829 runs, including a knock of 243 and it appears that he was in consideration for a place in the final two Tests of the England series, before Devdutt Padikkal got the nod.

At the end of May his place will be taken by Daniel Hughes, who is making his first foray into county cricket. The 35-year-old Australian will be around for the rest of the season and while he will boost Sussex’s chances in the Blast, his first class average of 36.87 is a little behind Pujara’s 51.9.

One surprise move over the winter has been that of wicket keeper John Simpson, who joins Sussex from Middlesex. With the loss of a number of the more senior players over recent years, head coach Paul Farbrace has wanted to introduce some more experienced players and Simpson has been given the captaincy of the Championship side for the first seven matches.

The relative immaturity of the squad was demonstrated on the field last summer, with Sussex being deducted 12 points in the Championship as a result of accumulating four fixed penalties for breaches of discipline, two in their game against Leicestershire. This ended any hopes of catching Worcestershire in the promotion race. Simpson’s arrival is a little tough on their current keeper Ollie Carter, who scored 629 championship runs at 41.93 last year.

The other new signing is Danny Lamb from Lancashire. The 27-year-old all rounder has struggled to get a game with his home county, but has experience in all formats. Sussex have also promoted Henry Rogers and Zach Lion-Cachet from the Academy. Rogers is an 18-year-old batter who made 140 in a second XI Championship game at the end of last season, while Lion-Cachet is a 20-year-old batter who has also been racking up the runs in second XI cricket and has played one Metro Bank One Day Cup fixture.

Ravi Bopara has departed and the T20 captaincy has passed to Tymal Mills, dependent on him not being picked by England for the T20 World Cup. He played in the first three games of the five match T20 series against the West Indies in December, but has been struggling for form in the Pakistan Super League, dropped from the Islamabad United team after playing the first five matches.

Sussex finished in the bottom half of the South Group in the Blast last summer, with six wins and were bottom of their group in the One Day Cup with just one win. Farbrace has stated that “Our priorities are Championship, first and foremost, then T20 and then 50-over cricket”, but Hughes is a proven performer in T20 cricket and with the youngsters gaining experience rapidly they will have hopes of some good results. However, qualification for the latter stages of the Blast may be beyond them as yet.

Key player

The priority for second division teams in the Championship is having a bowling attack that can take 20 wickets. Ollie Robinson has been their go-to bowler for a number of seasons and his success has led to him playing 20 Tests, capturing 76 wickets at 22.92. Unfortunately there have always been question marks about his mental approach and he certainly looked off the pace when called up for the recent fourth Test in India, despite his valiant effort with the bat. England’s next Test match is against the West Indies in July so there is plenty of time for Robinson to get back to his best. If he does so, there will be some second division batting line ups that will have suffered.

One to watch

Jack Carson is not exactly a new face, the 23-year-old having played 36 first class matches. The question is whether the tall off spinner can move up to the next level. His 31 championship wickets at 40.32 were the second most for an England qualified spinner last summer, behind Liam Dawson and level with Alex Thomson. This compares with 19 at 48.44 for Tom Hartley and just 10 at 67.00 for Shoaib Bashir and 8 at 66.12 for Rehan Ahmed, but Carson will have been judged on his being taken in Division Two. The England trio have been applauded for their performances in India, but it would be unwise of the selectors to take their eyes off Carson.

Overseas signings: Jayden Seales (West Indies, until 8 June), Nathan McAndrew (Australia, 1 June-31 July), Cheteshwar Pujara (India, until 27 May), Daniel Hughes (Australia, from 31 May)

Ins: Danny Lamb (Lancashire), John Simpson (Middlesex), Henry Rogers (Academy), Zach Lion-Cachet (Academy)

Outs: George Garton (Warwickshire), Ali Orr (Hampshire), Ravi Bopara (released), Jamie Atkins (retired)

How will they fare: Sussex’s focus will be on the County Championship and they deserve to challenge for promotion given the way they have developed their young squad. The batting showed its ability last season and now it is the bowlers who need to perform in order to get them over the line. They will hope for better results in the white ball competitions than in 2023, but may just fall short of a knock out spot.

Opening fixture: CC vs Northamptonshire on April 5 at The 1st Central County Ground


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