Yorkshire are the visitors for Sussex’s first home game of the LV= Insurance County Championship season which gets underway behind closed doors at The 1st Central County Ground on Thursday. It will be the teams' first encounter in any format since 2015.
One change has been made to the Sussex squad that travelled to Cardiff last week, with Mitch Claydon replacing Stuart Meaker in the 12-man group.
After taking maximum points from their eight-wicket win against Glamorgan, Sussex are early leaders in Group 3 of the Championship, with 38 points from two matches. Lancashire and this week's visitors Yorkshire are both close behind, with a draw and a win each and 37 and 34 points respectively.
Stiaan van Zyl became Sussex’s second centurion of the campaign in Wales, scoring 113 in an innings full of aesthetically pleasing strokeplay. There were also fifties for Aaron Thomason, Tom Haines, George Garton, Ollie Robinson and Tom Clark. After two rounds, Haines is fourth on the Championship run-scorers list, with 274 from his four innings so far. Thomason tops the Sussex batting averages currently with 194 runs from four innings, with two not outs.
Tom Clark caught the eye with his nerveless 54 not out during Sussex's chase against Glamorgan
Robinson’s spectacular nine wicket-haul in Glamorgan’s second inning saw him finish with 13 in the match. That sent him to the top of the Championship wicket-takers list with 15 scalps so far and has intensified talk of a Test debut for the 27-year-old. He’ll have a chance to impress the England captain in person this week (see ‘Opposition’). There were more encouraging signs from first-year professionals, Henry Crocombe and Jack Carson, who each took three important wickets at Sophia Gardens.
"If I can pick Joe Root up twice, that'll be a bonus" - Ollie Robinson talks nine-fers, reverse swing and England ambitions.
Ben Brown (captain, wicketkeeper), Ollie Robinson (vice capt.), Jack Carson, Tom Clark, Mitch Claydon Henry Crocombe, George Garton, Tom Haines, Sean Hunt, Delray Rawlins, Aaron Thomason, Stiaan van Zyl
Phil Salt remains unavailable through injury (foot).
View from the coach’s office:
Reflecting on his first victory as Sussex’s Championship head coach, Ian Salisbury said, “I’ve been round long enough to know that one win doesn’t change too much, but it adds belief in what we’re doing. We’re coaching the players to trust the process rather than focus on the outcome too much, but a win’s a win and when you see the elation of the team and the reaction of the supporters and everyone at the club, it proves it is important! That’s why I’ve said all along that I’m not afraid of talking about winning and every game we go into we’ll try and win.”
On Ollie Robinson’s figures of 9 for 78 in Glamorgan’s second innings and the support he received from his teammates, Salisbury said, “That was as good a spell of bowling as I’ve seen. They don’t give 9-fers away and there aren’t many of those in the history of the game. It was extraordinary bowling, but he is quick to talk about how everyone backed him up.
🎯 257 Sussex wickets— Sussex Cricket (@SussexCCC) April 19, 2021
🤓 At an average of 20.84
🖐️ Five-fer in every 5.66 innings
Watch EVERY five-wicket haul @OllieRobinson25 has taken for us right here:
“The shift the spinners [Jack Carson and Delray Rawlins] put in on the third evening to keep it tight was massive. Because of that, we were able to keep Ollie back and fresh for the spell where he got it reversing and the last few wickets fell.
On Ben Brown’s captaincy, he said, “I thought Ben was really good tactically throughout the game. The way he used the spinners and his field placing to keep it tight and stop Glamorgan getting away was excellent. He kept Ollie fresh for the big moments and he managed George [Garton], who had a sore heel, well, so that he could come back at the other end, which was just as important in keeping the pressure on. George didn’t get the rewards that Ollie did, but he was excellent at that point as well.”
George Garton and Ollie Robinson's reverse swing was the key to unlocking Glamorgan's resistance
Assessing the performance of Sussex’s batsmen, he added, “In both the games so far, we’ve showed a lot of fight with the bat. Stiaan [van Zyl] was given a fantastic platform by Aaron and Tom. I can’t imagine there are too many young opening batters in the country doing a better job than those two at the moment. I’m delighted for Tom Clark and the way he batted in the chase as well.
“George’s 97, Ollie’s fifty: there were too many good performances with the bat to mention. That comes from belief. The players that have gone out and played the way they have know they’ve got the team, the coaching staff and the whole club right behind them and that they’re trusted to do the job.
Looking ahead to his first game in charge at The 1st Central County Ground, Salisbury said, “Yorkshire have won more County Championships than anyone else, Sussex haven’t played Yorkshire for six years, it’s the first home game and there will be some big names on show - what a fantastic fixture! I feel sad that we can’t have members and sponsors in. I think there might have been a few people from Yorkshire who would have liked to make the journey down for this one too. It’s a shame we can’t have people in for what I think is going to be a fantastic fixture.”
Ben Brown made an unbeaten century during Yorkshire's previous visit to Hove, a draw in 2015
Yorkshire topped the North Group in last summer’s Bob Willis Trophy but missed out on the final as a result of Essex and Somerset’s superior points tally.
The White Rose county began the current season with a draw against Glamorgan at Headingley, fighting back in the second innings to save the match. Coach Andrew Gale’s side were one of three teams in Group 3 - alongside Sussex and Lancashire - to record a victory in round two, beating Kent by 200 runs at Canterbury.
Adam Lyth has had a fantastic start to the season, following his 52 and 115 not out against Glamorgan, with 97 and 116 last week. Unsurprisingly, those performances make him the Championship’s leading run scorer at this stage, with a total of 380 to his name. After low scores in his first three visits to the crease, England Test captain, Joe Root, bounced back with a century in Yorkshire’s second innings at the St. Lawrence Ground. Former England Under-19 skipper, the 22-year-old Harry Brook has been a consistent contributor with scores of 40, 60, 54 and 66.
Ben Coad took seven wickets in the Glamorgan match, but has been ruled out since with a shoulder injury. After being left out of Yorkshire’s opener, David Willey took 5 for 61 to help bowl his side to victory over Kent. He, South African overseas Duanne Oliver and skipper Steve Patterson all have six wickets so far.
Gary Ballance is in line for his first first-class appearance since September 2019 having been cleared to play this week after suffering from concussion in pre-season.
Steve Patterson (captain), Gary Balance, Dom Bess, Harry Brook, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Adam Lyth, Duanne Olivier, Mat Pillans, Joe Root, Jonny Tattersall (wicketkeeper), Jordan Thompson, David Willey
Play is scheduled to begin at 11am on all four days of the match. The match will be played behind closed doors in line with government requirements. Members and supporters are asked not to visit the ground.
Supporters can still catch the action through the live stream available on the Sussex Cricket Match Centre, which also offers a live scorecard, stats and video clips of key moments.
Last chance to order a 2021 Sussex Cricket Yearbook!