Sussex could field nine internationals in Blast showdown with Kent

Sussex started their home campaign with a win over Hants - can they get the better of Kent on Friday night? Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Sussex started their home campaign with a win over Hants - can they get the better of Kent on Friday night? Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Fast bowler Tymal Mills is backing his star-studded Sussex Sharks team-mates to continue their impressive start to the Vitality Blast campaign.

Sussex host South Group leaders Kent Spitfires at the First Central County Ground tonight (Friday, 7pm) in a meeting of two unbeaten teams.

The Sharks have won two and tied with Surrey after their opener with Hampshire was rained off but will relish Friday’s clash, especially as they could potentially field a team containing nine internationals.

Jofra Archer has been cleared to play his second Blast game as he returns to fitness following a side strain sustained during the World Cup while Chris Jordan is close to a return after missing the opening fortnight of the tournament with a shoulder injury.

With Australian ace Alex Carey – who made a match-winning 78 in Sunday’s win over Somerset – making his home debut, Sussex will fancy their chances of handing Kent their first defeat in front of another Hove full house.

“We’re in a good place and playing some decent cricket,” said Mills, who has sent down 11 overs at an economy rate of just 5.90 in his three appearances to date. “I think the bowling attack is up there with the best in the tournament and we back ourselves to put opposition batsmen under pressure. We have a lot of experienced internationals in the squad. We’re only four games in but we’re unbeaten and we feel confident.

“You could argue it is a stronger squad than last year, when we reached the final.

“Guys like Phil Salt and Laurie Evans got the opportunity of playing franchise cricket last winter, so they have come back with that knowledge under their belt. I spent a lot of time with Salty during the winter in the franchises. He knows the responsibility is on him because he isn’t a new face anymore but I’d still back him to deliver.”

Archer’s run-out tonight may be his last for some time but in Reece Topley, who has taken seven wickets at 13.28 so far after recovering from career-threatening back trouble, Sussex seem to have picked up a more than capable replacement for Ashes-bound Archer.

Mills knows Topley well, and having gone through a similarly tough time with injury he can empathise with his former Essex team-mate.

“I know Reece from five or six years ago at Essex. He’s a mate and you don’t like to see friends out of the game for a prolonged period of time,” he added.

“He’s gone about his recovery the right way, the club haven’t rushed him back and everyone knows what he can do, he is international class. To be able bring in a high-quality bowler like Reece is brilliant because we know we probably won’t see a lot of Jof for the rest of the summer now.”