Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Sussex v Gloucestershire

Vitality County Championship Match Preview: Sussex v Gloucestershire

Chris Dent (picture via Gloucestershire Cricket YouTube, with thanks)
Chris Dent (picture via Gloucestershire Cricket YouTube, with thanks)

Can Sussex get their first win

Sussex have been the form team in Division Two, coming close against Northamptonshire in week one and then dominating their last match against Leicestershire, only to have the last day washed out. They will be hoping to get over the line this week against a Gloucestershire side that had to hold out for a draw against Yorkshire last week.

Sussex’s young team have matured and look a strong contender for promotion, if they can keep bowling sides out. They have a fully fit Ollie Robinson at their disposal, although he is being used cautiously, missing the Leicestershire match. He should be back this week with Sussex missing the next round of matches. West Indian quick Jayden Seales went wicketless at Leicester, having taken six in the Northants game, but forms a potent new ball attack with Robinson. It was Fynn Hudson-Prentice who did the damage last week, taking 5/50 and Sussex have the luxury of being able to rotate their pace bowlers.

Batters have generally been scoring freely in the first two rounds and the Sussex contingent are no exception. Tom Haines has batted twice and scored centuries on both occasions, while new skipper John Simpson posted his maiden double century against Leicestershire and all rounder Danny Lamb also chipped in with a ton. Cheteshwar Pujara is also waiting in the wings!

Gloucestershire’s first round game was abandoned without a ball bowled, but they were given a stern test by Yorkshire last week. Returning coach Mark Alleyne, will be pleased how his players reacted, scoring over 400 runs in the fourth innings, resisting the much vaunted Yorkshire attack. Ollie Price is looking a great prospect, having been away with the Lions in the winter and his 147 was vital. It was also good to see James Bracey scoring a century. They have the experience of Cameron Bancroft and Chris Dent at the top of the order and then with Ollie Price coming in at three, followed by Miles Hammond, Bracey and Ben Charlesworth, they have a more than competent batting line up.

Zaman Akhter was the pick of the bowlers, taking 5/89 in the first innings and removed both Joe Root and Harry Brook cheaply. They also have the raw pace of Marchant de Lange and Ajeet Singh Dale. Spin has come from Ollie Price and Graeme van Buuren and they have not yet called upon their leading wicket taker from 2023 Zafar Gohar, who came into the squad for the Yorkshire game.

Sussex just failed to complete the job in the first round and will be hoping that the weather stays fine so they have enough time this week.

Key players:

John Simpson has been brought in to add some experience to the youthful Sussex line up and he certainly contributed with the bat in the last round, as he has done many times for Middlesex. The exuberance of some of the Sussex players can spill over, leading to the loss of 12 points last season because of recurrent disciplinary problems. He will be looking to channel that energy into more productive outcomes.

We cannot keep putting Ollie Price in this slot, so we turn our attention to James Bracey. The 26-year-old wicket keeper played his two Tests back in the summer of 2021 against New Zealand. He had originally been brought into the squad as a reserve top-order batter and backup keeper, but took the gloves after Ben Foakes suffered a hamstring injury and the two keepers next in line were also missing. It was not a happy baptism as he made eight runs in three innings, falling twice without scoring. Since then the runs in red ball cricket have dried up, averaging just under 22 in the Championship last year and 27.0 in 2022. Hopefully the century last week will be the start of a resurgence.

Team News:

Sussex will likely bring in Robinson for Aristides Karvelas, who struggled with the ball against Leicestershire.

Sussex squad (from): John Simpson (c/wk), Tom Alsop, Jack Carson, Oli Carter, Tom Clark, James Coles, Henry Crocombe, Tom Haines, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, Sean Hunt, Ari Karvelas, Danny Lamb, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ollie Robinson, Jayden Seales

Changes to the Gloucestershire squad depend on the fitness of Tom Price or Matt Taylor.

Gloucestershire squad (from): Graeme van Buuren (c), Zaman Akhtar, Cameron Bancroft, James Bracey (wk), Ben Charlesworth, Ajeet Singh Dale, Marchant de Lange, Chris Dent, Zafar Gohar, Dom Goodman, Miles Hammond, Joe Phillips, Ollie Price, Josh Shaw

Weather and Conditions:

The current forecast is for four dry days with sunny intervals, although the players will be well wrapped up.

With the introduction of the Dukes ball the expectation is for some more bowler-friendly conditions and the captain winning the toss is likely to want to bowl first. With a period of dry weather approaching pitches should be drying out.

Date: 19-22 April 2024

Time: 11:00

Ground: 1st Central County Ground, Hove

Odds (William Hill): Sussex 1/2; Gloucestershire 6/4


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