County Championship 2021: Sussex Preview
What happened last year?
Sussex really struggled to get going in the delayed red-ball campaign and as a result ended with just a solitary win and finished bottom of the South Group. A 24-point deduction due to Mitch Claydon’s ball-tampering incident resulted in them finishing with 12 points, the lowest in the competition.
Their one win did come against South Coast rivals Hampshire in their opening game, but it all unravelled from there. They had a chance to defeat eventual champions Essex, however, the side from Chelmsford held their nerve to chase down 196 with three wickets to spare. Defeats in the other games were all fairly comfortable for the opposition and so Sussex will be looking to bounce back under new coaches after Jason Gillespie left to join South Australia and be closer to family at the conclusion of the season. Ian Salisbury is now in charge of the County Championship and One Day Cup competitions, with James Kirtley given the responsibility of the t20 Blast.
Key player for 2021
Travis Head was due to reunite with his coach from the Big Bash, Jason Gillespie in 2020, however travel restrictions meant that he was unable to fulfil his contract with Sussex. That has now been rescheduled for 2021 and he will be eager to pile on some runs to keep his name firmly in the conversation for the Australia test side going forward.
Head has had a mightily impressive Sheffield Shield season in the lead up to the English summer. Second highest scorer, only behind Aussie youngster Cameron Green. Head is averaging over 70 with three tons including one double.
Sussex may be quite heavily reliant on Travis Head to score the bulk of their runs as only Phil Salt managed to average in excess of 30 in the 2020 season (min. 2 games).
England hopeful/young gun
Many will feel Ollie Robinson has been desperately unlucky not to have had at least a handful of England caps thus far in his career. He averages below 22 with the ball and is such a canny operator. He is perfect for English conditions and if it weren’t for England’s greatest bowlers of all time blocking his route to the side, he should’ve played quite a few games by now.
After being released from the England ‘bubble’ in the summer, he managed to go back to Sussex and show again what he was capable of. He managed to pick up 14 wickets in just two games, falling just short of overtaking Jack Carson as Sussex’s leading wicket-taker for the competition. Robinson ended with a ridiculous average of 12.5 and will be hoping some good form can throw him into contention for England’s games against New Zealand where some bowlers may be missing due to IPL commitments.
The target for this year?
If Sussex are able to find a formula in the batting, they have a chance of improving on last year’s performance. It will be a struggle for them to make the top two with a formidable Kent side likely to win the group. Lancashire and Yorkshire will be vying for the second qualifying place to make it into Division One. This leaves Glamorgan, Northamptonshire and Sussex with one place in Division Two up for grabs. Sussex will definitely be disappointed to finish anything below fourth. With Ollie Robinson likely to be in the England squad they may find themselves lacking wicket-taking options too meaning this summer could be a difficult one.
Overseas players: Travis Head (Australia), Stiaan van Zyl (South Africa)