Sussex travel to Emirates Old Trafford with a 12-man squad, plus two reserves, ahead of their opening match of this year’s LV= Insurance County Championship against Lancashire, which begins on Thursday.
Ollie Robinson will make his bow as Ben Brown’s deputy, having been announced as Sussex’s Championship vice-captain on Wednesday. Sean Hunt, signed from the Surrey Academy over the winter, is in with a chance a first-class debut, while Jack Carson and Henry Crocombe are in contention for their maiden Championship appearances, after making their first-class debuts in last summer’s Bob Willis Trophy. Will Beer and, new signing, Ali Orr make the trip north as cover for the main squad.
Phil Salt is unavailable having injured his right foot in a collision while riding his bicycle prior to Sussex's pre-season friendlies. An estimate of the time required for Phil to return to action will be made following further imaging and consultation with a specialist.
Ahead of his fist competitive match in charge, Sussex’s Championship and one-day head coach, Ian Salisbury said, “There’s nothing like the first game of a season. I’m hugely excited and genuinely optimistic about this group of players. I couldn’t have asked for more from the guys over the winter. There’s a great team ethic and lots of good conversations around the group as they look to help each other. James [Kirtley] and I have talked about winning off the pitch, and they’ve certainly been doing that. Now it is time to turn our attention to winning on the pitch as well.
“The signs from our pre-season games were really encouraging. We’d had fantastic net facilities in the marquee thanks to Ben Gibson and his team but hadn’t had the chance to practice in the middle, so to go straight from nets into those two matches and do well was brilliant. I remain humbled and honoured to be in the position I am in and absolutely can’t wait for the season to get underway.”
On Phil Salt’s injury, Salisbury added, “We wish Phil a speedy recovery. As an important part of our line-up, he will be missed, but the situation presents an opportunity for someone to come in and contribute.”
Tom Haines was the leading run-scorer from Sussex’s two pre-season friendlies, scoring a century against Surrey and 72 against Hampshire. Ben Brown made a half-century in each match, and Tom Clark scored 73 at the Kia Oval. Jack Carson, Henry Crocombe and George Garton each took four wickets across the two fixtures.
Ben Brown (capt.), Ollie Robinson (vice capt.), Jack Carson, Tom Clark, Henry Crocombe, George Garton, Tom Haines, Sean Hunt, Stuart Meaker, Delray Rawlins, Aaron Thomason, Stiaan van Zyl
Cover: Will Beer, Ali Orr
Lancashire finished third in the North Group of last summer’s Bob Willis Trophy, with wins against Derbyshire and Durham, draws against Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire and a defeat at the hands of Leicestershire. Under head coach, Glen Chapple, they adopted a similar approach to Sussex in offering opportunities to a number of homegrown young players. Over the winter, they recruited Luke Wells and Jack Blatherwick after they were released by Sussex and Nottinghamshire respectively. Wells will not have the opportunity to face his former county in the opening round of the Championship, however, after being ruled out with a hamstring injury.
The red rose county’s pre-season preparations included two two-day friendlies against Essex and a four-day match against Derbyshire. Saqib Mahmood took seven wickets in the two matches he played in, Rob Jones scored a century against Essex and a fifty against Derbyshire, while there was a first-innings hundred for Alex Davies in that trans-Peak District affair.
Squad: Dane Vilas (c), Tom Bailey, Josh Bohannon, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, Tom Hartley, Liam Hurt, Keaton Jennings, Rob Jones, Danny Lamb, George Lavelle, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Luke Wood
Play is scheduled to start at 11am on all four days. As per government guidelines, the match will be played behind closed doors.
Supporters can watch every ball via Lancashire’s live stream, which will be hosted on the Sussex Cricket Match Centre alongside a live scorecard, stats and video clips of key moments.
Sussex Sharks suffered a third successive washout in the Vitality Blast when their South Group game against Glamorgan at The 1st Central County Ground was abandoned 90 minutes before the scheduled 7pm start.<
Sussex's Freya Davies is part of a 16-strong squad for England Women's Royal London Series against India.