Wright charged with rousing Sussex spirits

Mustafizur Rahman is a rare example of a Bangladesh player given a chance in county cricket © AFP

Head coach: Mark Davis

Captain Luke Wright

Last season

Specsavers Championship: 8th Div 1; NatWest Blast: Quarter-final; Royal London Cup: 9th Group B

In: Danny Briggs (Hampshire).

Out: Michael Yardy, Steffan Piolet (both retired), Chris Liddle (Gloucestershire), Ashar Zaidi (Essex), Callum Jackson (released), Matt Hobden (deceased), James Anyon (retired)

Overseas: Ross Taylor, Mustafizur Rahman (limited-overs)

2015 in a nutshell

Hugely disappointing. Despite investing heavily in their cricket budget (the club made a loss of £141,000), Sussex’s winless 50-over campaign was followed by relegation in the Championship. The club paid for a glut of injuries to their seamers, the absence of a quality spinner and a loss of confidence from their batsmen caused, in part, by some poor surfaces in Hove. Their long-serving head coach, Mark Robinson, subsequently left to work with England’s women, Ed Joyce stepped down from the captaincy and Michael Yardy retired. Tragedy then followed with highly-rated seamer Matt Hobden dying in an accident over the New Year.

2016 prospects

Anything less than promotion will probably be deemed failure at a club with a rich history over the last decade-and-a-half and a budget far bigger than some of its rivals. It is not an unrealistic prospect. The addition of Briggs should correct the spin deficit of last year, while if Ajmal Shahzad can stay fit and Chris Jordan is available, they have, alongside Steve Magoffin, a potent attack. The additions of Mustafizur Rahman and Ross Taylor – both of whom were named in the World ODI team of the year – should improve their white-ball form, while a middle-order of Joyce, Taylor and Wright could prove daunting for Division Two attacks.

Key player

As captain of a squad struggling for equilibrium after change, relegation and bereavement, Luke Wright faces a demanding season. If he can get through without losing his form, fitness or easy-going manner, Sussex should be able to bounce back. His decision not to enter the IPL auction demonstrates his commitment to the role.

Bright young thing

George Garton, an 18-year-old left-arm fast bowler, caught the eye with his pace during the U19 World Cup and looks to be a player of great potential. Phil Salt, an aggressive opening batsman, is worth keeping an eye upon, as is Ollie Robinson. Matt Hobden would have been the obvious man for this category, though, and it is hard to overstate the enormity of his loss.

ESPNcricinfo verdict

So much change in such a short space of time means it is hard to predict how Sussex will fare, but they do have the quality and the depth to improve in white ball cricket and win promotion in the Championship.

Bet365 odds: Specsavers Championship, Div 2: 7/4F; NatWest Blast 14/1; Royal London Cup 16/1

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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