At one point, it seemed unlikely we’d even see David Wiese in a Sussex shirt this summer.
With lockdown restrictions in South Africa intensifying and travel disruption across the globe, Wiese was forced to miss the start of the club’s shortened 2020 season.
The fact he only arrived in England in mid-August, and didn’t make his first appearance of the year until the Sharks hosted Hampshire at Hove on the 30th of that month, highlights just how well Wiese played over the final few weeks of the campaign to be nominated for our Player of the Season.
His showing in El Clasicoast was a sign of things to come, looking assured in the middle while the pressure increase.
Wiese finished unbeaten on 43* in that encounter, seeing the Sharks over the line alongside Harry Finch, before starring against Middlesex two days later.
The South African launched an assault on the home side’s bowling attack at Lord’s – again when the pressure was mounting and wickets continued to fall around him.
His stunning 79*, which was a T20 career-best, included three sixes and eight fours, and rescued the Sharks from 67-5 to chase 166 with four balls remaining.
It was a heroic effort from the all-rounder, and his impressive form continued throughout the Blast.
48 hours after the memorable night at Lord’s, Wiese hit 38 against Kent Spitfires, and then shone in EL Clasicoast once more with a vital 41 off just 26 balls at The Ageas Bowl.
Luke Wright labelled Wiese ‘Man of the Match’, despite the skipper himself scoring an unbeaten 83, because nobody came to the crease and timed the ball like the South African.
His burst with the bat helped the Sharks set Hampshire 160 to win and the hosts never looked likely, eventually finishing 13 runs short.
Despite missing the majority of the first-class season, Wiese also managed to impress in Sussex’s final Bob Willis Trophy match of the summer.
His first-innings 57, which was a thrilling performance to watch, included six fours and three sixes at The Kia Oval, while he also bowled 13 overs in Surrey’s first reply, dismissing the destructive Jamie Overton for 55.
In total, Wiese scored 281 Vitality Blast runs to finish as our second top-scorer, behind Wright, with an average of 40.14 and a strike rate of 145.59.
He added 61 first-class runs to his overall total for the season, and was a joy to watch throughout.