Wednesday, 26 March 2008

2008 Season Preview: Sussex

2007 in a nutshell:

Retaining the Championship and a first appearance in the Twenty20 finals day added up to another good season for Sussex. In the other one day competitions, a couple of poor losses killed of a useful Pro40 challenge and hopes of a second shot at the 50 over title were over shortly after the tournament began. Much of the hard work was again done by established stars but both Chris Nash and Andrew Hodd showed signs of having what it takes to make it at county level and Luke Wright made a surprising impact with the bat in all formats, if still unconvincing with the ball.

2008 prospects:

As of now, the main issue is whether the ECB will accept Mushtaq Ahmed’s registration, though the recent development of the PCB confirming the issue of his NOC, it is hard to see that they have any option but to let him play. Assuming that this is the case, the prospects for Sussex look good for another strong showing in most competitions.


The return of Matt Prior strengthens what was already one of the better middle orders in the county scene. More will be expected of Mike Yardy who didn’t really regain form from a broken finger in the season’s opener against the MCC until late in the season and the hopes will be for the usual level of performance from Murray Goodwin and Chris Adams. The main issue is the replacement of the retiring Richard Montgomerie and this seems to be a choice between Carl Hopkinson, who did the opening job in the 2006 season and Hodd, who showed great technique and temperament when replacing Prior at No6.


Aside from Ryan Harris replacing Rana Naved, the bowling attack will be the same as usual for the Championship, albeit another year older. Young left armer Chris Liddle is natural cover for Jason Lewry, for whom this is likely to be the final season, and should also get more outings this season. If Mushtaq proves to be as durable as ever, chances will remain limited for the three young spinners on the staff. James Kirtley will again feature mostly in the shorter formats of the game and is probably behind Liddle when it comes to Championship selection.

Probable side:


Nash, Hodd, Yardy, Goodwin, Adams (capt), Prior (wk), Wright, Martin-Jenkins, Harris, Mushtaq, Lewry

One day and Twenty20

Nash, Wright, Goodwin, Adams, Prior, Hopkinson/Hodd, Martin-Jenkins, Yardy, Harris, Mushtaq, Kirtley.

Key Man:

Mushtaq Ahmed will be key again. In all five seasons at Sussex he has been the highest wicket taker in the County Championship.

Rising Star:

Luke Wright will be looking to capitalise on last season’s superb batting performances and surprise call-up into the England one day side. He still has a long way to go with the ball to become effective in the all-rounder role but will hopefully get more chances to improve this aspect.

Captain and Coach:

No change in the major roles is expected with Adams remaining captain and Mark Robinson as head coach.

In response to comments:

We were really pleased about Hodd's return and I think Surrey have missed out by not giving him much of a run in his time there. I know you have Batty and this year the signing of Afzaal helps solidify the middle order but in 2007 it seemed that once either Butcher or Ramps had gone, there was a certain frailty and someone like him at 6 would have shored things up very nicely. He is in a bit of an odd position as Prior will be first choice with the gloves, even though there is no doubt that AH is the better keeper, and coming up behind is Ben Brown, who he acknowledges as being the best keeper on the staff. Fortunately he has been phlegmatic about it and is happy to try to make the side on batting alone, which is why I think he would be ideal for the opener spot.

It is tricky to know where to put Wright in the order. Obviously his ability suggests that he could fill a position like 4 or 5 in the order and would do in many county sides but then you look at who is already there and at 6 too and it looks like the only place. Had he not been involved with England, he might have made an interesting candidate for opening but I think we would go with someone who is likely to be around all season in our attempt to find a long term partnership.


Tim said...

Nice stuff dk. Agree with playing Hodd and Prior, as Hodd looked excellent last season.

Hopefully Wright can push on in the championship, even f it he is as low as 7.

Chrispy said...

Who would keep wicket between Prior and Hodd? Prehaps Prior might want to focus on becoming a specialist batsman as he looks good enough. Great middle order, if slightly weak in the opening batting department. Can't argue with the experience of the bowling. Going to be there or there abouts yet again. Grrrr!!

Anonymous said...

Good comments DK that could be our championship side good balance inexpierenced opening partnership but a great middle order to support hodd and nash and can bat right down order looking forward to another fantastic season