Sussex skipper Brown: Why I'm excited about this season - and the future

I’m writing this after a great two days in our pre-season friendly against Surrey, writes Sussex skipper Ben Brown.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 8:00 am
Ben Brown behind the stumps as Ben Foakes hits out / Picture: Getty

Their side was far more experienced than ours and to come out as by far the dominant team was fantastic.

I’ve played in plenty of pre-season matches and you don’t get many with the sun beating down and a pitch as good as the one we played on at The Oval. The batters really took advantage of those conditions and then for a young bowling attack to remove their top order twice on a really flat pitch was a fantastic achievement.

Sean Hunt and Henry Crocombe were superb in hitting their marks, Jamie Atkins showed what an exciting prospect he is, but the best spell came from our young off-spinner Jack Carson.

The way he has bowled at some of the batters he’s come up against early in his career shows what an exciting prospect he is. I’ve no doubt that he’ll be on England’s radar before too long.

You just have to look at the way he bowled at Hashim Amla last year to see he has the skill and the mentality required. It’s so exciting as a captain to have a spinner you can really look forward to getting on, knowing he’ll be an attacking, aggressive option.

I’ve mentioned some of the other young guys making their mark, and the number of these guys coming through shows what top coaches we have at Sussex.

Richard Halsall has made a huge difference in the pathway. He’s a brilliant, experienced coach who we’re lucky to have. The work he and his age-group coaches do linking the county with schools and clubs is really bearing fruit.

The guys coming through look ready to be in a professional environment, and when they get here, they’ve got guys like Ian Salisbury, James Kirtley, Swifty (Jason Swift), Sarah (Taylor) and Ash (Wright) to work with. There are so many good coaches who are also top-quality people that there’s just no excuse not to improve.

By the time you read this, we’ll have played another two-day friendly against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl, where we’ll have tried to build on that first performance.

The training we’ve done in the marquee at Hove meant we went into that first game feeling match ready.

Lancashire at Old Trafford this week will be a really challenging first game in the Championship against one of the teams you’d expect to be right up there. It’ll be a real good marker of where we’re at. We’ll likely come up against a former Sussex man in Luke Wells. I played ten or 12 years with Wellsy, so it will be strange being on the opposite team.

I really wish him well, maybe not against us, but Wellsy is a top Sussex boy and I hope he is able to reboot his career. He’s a fantastic player and if he settles in at Lancs he’ll be a great asset for them.

The Covid protocols are a bit exhausting, but necessary. We’re used to things like packed lunches and now we’re being tested every Tuesday and Sunday.

It’s about getting into a position where we can have supporters back, so it’s worth it. That’s what we’re really missing.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel in that regard. The guys are desperate to put on performances in front of our fans again, so fingers crossed.

I was really excited driving home from the Surrey friendly thinking about the future of the club and the players we’ve got coming through. It will be amazing to share that excitement with everyone who loves Sussex as soon as we can.

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