Wednesday, 15 April 2009

2009 County Preview: Sussex

By Benjamin Fyffe

2008 in a nutshell
The overbearing memory of the 2008 season for Sussex fans was that of Mushie once again, but this time it was the lack of Mushie rather than his wicket-taking exploits. Time finally caught up with the man as injury hit him and Sussex struggled in the Championship without his wickets. The Twenty20 and Friends Provident competitions were disastrous as the county finished bottom of their regional group in both. However they survived in the 4 day format and the fans had the pleasure of a somewhat surprising Pro40 league victory meaning that Sussex are still champions of a sort. The season ended with the news that Chris Adams would finally be hanging up his playing boots to take the coaching role offered to him by Surrey.

2008 top performers
Murray Goodwin
deserves mention as per usual for his efforts with the bat while Jason Lewry chipped in with plenty of vital wickets to prove that he's still got it.

2009 prospects
There is certainly potential for Sussex to do extremely well this season in the Championship as they have a nicely balanced squad. Much relies on the support that run machine Murray Goodwin gets from new skipper Michael Yardy and new signing Ed Joyce. Ollie Rayner will be expected to step up to the plate as the county’s new first choice spinner while Corey Collymore will also be key if Sussex are to take twenty wickets every match this season. Perhaps the most interesting factor affecting Sussex in 2009 is how the club reacts to the departure of Chris Adams, so long their inspirational leader. On the one-day front, a defence of the Pro40 crown is certainly possible while challenges in the Friends Provident Trophy and Twenty20 Cup surely cannot fare any worse than they did last season.

Strongest XI

CD Nash
MH Yardy*
EC Joyce (CD Hopkinson)
MW Goodwin
MJ Prior+ (AJ Hodd+)
LJ Wright (DR Smith)
Y Arafat (D Lewis)
RSC Martin-Jenkins (CJ Liddle)
OP Rayner
CD Collymore (PSE Sandri)
J Lewry (RJ Kirtley)

Limited Overs
EC Joyce (CD Nash)
LJ Wright (CD Hopkinson)
MW Goodwin
MH Yardy*
MJ Prior+ (AJ Hodd+)
DR Smith (RJ Hamilton-Brown)
Y Arafat (D Lewis)
RSC Martin-Jenkins
OP Rayner
RJ Kirtley (J Lewry)
CD Collymore (PSE Sandri)

Chris Nash is a reliable opener who can be relied on to average in the thirties when it comes to Championship cricket. The arrival of Ed Joyce from Middlesex should result in Nash’s departure from the Limited Overs side however. Joyce may open with Luke Wright in Limited Overs cricket while skipper Michael Yardy will probably partner Nash in the Championship. Wicket-keeper Andrew Hodd also has experience of opening.

Middle Order
Murray Goodwin is the man who will look to hold the batting line-up together with support from new signing Ed Joyce in the four day game and Matt Prior, or Andrew Hodd when Prior is on England duty. Carl Hopkinson will probably see his involvement decrease with the arrival of Joyce but will be an able backup when required. All-rounders Luke Wright, Dwayne Smith and Rory Hamilton-Brown will also boost the middle order throughout the season.

Matt Prior will be on England duty most of the summer and therefore Andrew Hodd will be relied on throughout the season, he is probably a better gloveman than Prior and his batting is not too shabby either, whether opening or in the middle order. Young Ben Brown, an England under-19 international provides further back up.

Fast Bowlers
Experienced West Indian Corey Collymore will probably lead the line with the evergreen Jason Lewry as support. Yasir Arafat returns to Hove as overseas player and will be made full use of while his Aussie interim replacement Damien Lewis is also an experienced bowler. Robin Martin-Jenkins should be as reliable as ever while the main back up comes from James Kirtley and ‘Italian’ Pepler Sandri, who has been playing for Cape Cobras and the Sussex coaching team have high expectations for. Chris Liddle will also be called upon when needed. Luke Wright, Rory Hamilton-Brown and Dwayne Smith are all reasonable fast-medium bowling all rounders who will be used throughout to complement the main attack.

A lot relies on Ollie Rayner fulfilling his potential and taking plenty of wickets this season for Sussex in the wake of Mushtaq Ahmed. If Rayner performs then Sussex will be fighting for the Championship this season. Will Beer provides the main back up in the spin bowling department with his leg breaks.

Rising Star
Ollie Rayner is the obvious candidate here, his recent call up to the England Performance Squad testifies this, although Rory Hamilton-Brown also deserves a mention as he could be a spectacular all-rounder if he fulfils his massive potential.

Key Man
Murray Goodwin
has to score heavily this season as his influence may well dictate the rest of the batting line up.

Captain and Coach
Michael Yardy has been named captain for the season after Chris Adams’ departure and despite a lack of experience should be able to inspire his colleagues at the club, who have played with Yardy for long enough. Mark Robinson remains coach and deserves more credit than he often gets for his work at Hove, he will be hoping to oversee another super summer for Sussex.


Anonymous said...

A glaring omission is Joe Gatting, who scored a century in his first game against Surrey on pre-season tour and his maiden first class century today, 150 v CambUni.

Mon The Biffy said...

In the wake of yesterday's century he does seem to be a somewhat unfair omission but I honestly doubt he'll play much cricket in the 1st XI this season, unless Joyce, Hopkinson, Nash, Goodwin and Yardy are either in bad form or injured then he's unlikely to get a look in ;-)

Plus I wrote this about a week ago so it seemed even less likely then :P

Still good point tho

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