BBC cricket commentator says Sussex can surprise a few this season
There’s nothing more exciting at the start of a new season than a crop of young home-grown players pushing hard for a first team place, writes Adrian Harms of BBC Sussex.
That’s the case at Hove, and will perhaps be the legacy of departed coach Jason Gillespie. New Championship head coach Ian Salisbury is committed to continuing that policy, while ensuring a balance with older more experienced players.
Scoring enough runs has been a major problem in the past few seasons, but that should be helped by the signing of South Australian batsman Travis Head.
With a Test average of 39.75 and two Test hundreds already under his belt, the 27-year-old can hopefully provide the top order stability Sussex have been lacking.
In addition his experience can further help the development of, among others, Tom Haines, Phil Salt and Delray Rawlins, all of whom have scored first-class centuries but now need to add consistency to their undoubted talent.
With the Australian season yet to finish and a period in quarantine looming once he arrives at Hove, Head is likely to miss the first three and possibly four matches of the season.
During that time, much will depend on the experience of South African Stiaan Van Zyl to help and encourage the younger batsman, particularly on the seamer-friendly wickets during April.
With Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan both likely to miss much of the Championship season through the IPL and then international duties, the Sussex attack will again be led by Ollie Robinson, who will be chomping at the bit for the season to start.
His progress over the past three seasons has rightly taken him to the brink of England selection and a good start to the season will keep him firmly in the selectors’ thoughts for the Test series against New Zealand in June.
He will be supported by the pace of George Garton, who showed last season he has the ability to unsettle the best of county batsmen.
In addition he is a more than useful lower-order batsman, and while taking wickets will be his main priority, has the ability given time to develop into a genuine all-rounder.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the progress of off spinner Jack Carson. Still only 20, Carson showed maturity and a willingness to learn way beyond his years last season.
Refreshingly for a spinner he likes to attack batsman, turns the ball, knows where he wants his field, and could prove to be a very useful weapon in the Sussex armoury.
Exciting times beckon on the south coast. The youngsters will need time to develop and there will be bumps along the way, but led by the indomitable spirit of Ben Brown, Sussex could prove a surprise package this season.
With spectators not allowed at Hove until the middle of May at the earliest, supporters can keep in touch through BBC Radio Sussex. We will be providing ball to ball commentary online for every match home and away throughout the season, as well as providing regular updates throughout the day on the radio.