Head Coach Mark Davis has welcomed the changes to the 2017 domestic schedule, which he feels gives Sussex a greater chance of success in one-day cricket.
After facing Kent at Hove and Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in the Specsavers Championship, the Sharks swing into their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign when they take on Middlesex at Lord’s on April 27 in the first of their eight South Group games. Their four home fixtures include a return to the Saffrons, Eastbourne, for the first time in 17 years when they take on Gloucestershire.
The county have already begun their preparations for the first white-ball action with two friendlies against Somerset this week with two more planned for today (Thursday) and Friday at Hove against Hampshire.
By the time they head to Lord’s their resources will have been boosted by the arrival of South Africans Vernon Philander and Stiaan van Zyl, and there is the possibility that Chris Jordan might be available towards the end of the group stages, depending on his commitments in the Indian Premier League.
It won’t take much for Sussex to improve their fortunes in the 50 overs competition.
They have only won one game in the format in the last two years, and that was a game reduced to 32 overs a side against Middlesex last June.
“We know we haven’t been good enough in one-day cricket in the last couple of years, especially in the 50 overs format,” said Davis.
“But I believe we will be more competitive this year. Our squad certainly looks stronger, I think we have the personnel who can do well in the format.
“And the schedule has changed and I think it will suit us, particularly having the Royal London One-Day Cup so early in the season.
“You can prepare properly for it, which we have already started doing. In the past, we have had to switch from red-ball cricket to 50 overs with barely any time to prepare. I know it’s the same for everyone but a lot can depend where you are as a squad at the time. If you’re confident and winning games in other formats then you can usually take that momentum forward.
“I’ll be honest, it’s the best schedule we’ve had in my time in England. It is balanced and works really well. You can focus on individual competitions because they are played in blocks and the fixtures are well spaced out.”
Davis is convinced Sussex’s squad is stronger than 12 months ago and has the depth to fight for honours on three fronts. The priority may be promotion in the County Championship but they want to make the sort of impact in one-day competitions that was the norm not so long ago when Sussex won four one-day titles in the space of four years.
“I won’t shy away from our goals,” Davis added. “We want to get promoted and win trophies again. If we realise our potential on a consistent basis then I think we have a very strong chance of competing in all three trophies.”