Live video: Sussex win toss and bowl – Archer strikes early, Rawlins starts
Delray Rawlins has been retained in the Sussex 13-man squad for the LV= Insurance County Championship match against neighbours Kent starting today at the 1st Central County Ground.
Set to play his first first-class match since September 2018 is Jofra Archer, the Barbadian-born England fast bowler, who is one of two changes to the squad that suffered an innings defeat by Northamptonshire last weekend.
Pace bowler George Garton, who was rested for the Northamptonshire match, also returns to the team. The pair replace Joe Sarro and Jamie Atkins, the latter being rested.
Rawlins was dismissed for two ducks in that match, and immediately got involved in a Second XI match against Hampshire after returning from Northampton.
“Delray and Clarky [Tom Clark] going off to play in the Seconds straight after getting back on Sunday night shows that desire to get better,” coach Ian Salisbury told the the official Sussex website.
“They both had time in the middle and were able to work on a couple of technical things. The willingness among these young guys to get better and learn has been very apparent.”
After their heavy defeat at Wantage Road, both Archer and Garton look likely to play against Kent as Sussex aim to bounce back with a strong performance against the bottom team in group three.
“Any team in world cricket would be excited to name Jofra in their squad for a game,” Salisbury said. “Everybody is aware of his talents.”
Archer has been out of action since withdrawing from the England team on the tour to India in March because of an elbow injury. Subsequent hand surgery kept him out of the start of the Indian Premier League, which has since been suspended because of rampant Covid-19 infections in the host country.
Salisbury added: “George comes back in after we gave him last week off as part of our policy of rotating players. Based on how he has been in training over the last couple of days, it was definitely the right thing to do. He’s been buzzing and full of energy and comes back into the squad reinvigorated.”
At the halfway stage of the group matches, Sussex are fifth in the standings, with 51 points from a win, a draw and three defeats. They are seven points behind fourth-placed Glamorgan and 35 from Yorkshire in second place.
After ten matches, the top two teams in each of the competition’s three groups will go into division one to battle for the championship title over four more rounds. The third and fourth teams will compete in division two, and the fifth and sixth- placed sides will finish their season in division three.
Salisbury feels the club’s rotation policy is a good one for the young players.
“A good illustration of why we rotate guys like this is how Ollie Robinson bowled at Northampton,” he explained.
“He was outstanding and was able to bowl long spells and was aware of how much fresher he felt having missed the Yorkshire game the week before.”
Salisbury believes important lessons will have been learnt from the Northamptonshire defeat, which came with more than a half a day to spare despite the third day being rained out.
“Prior to last week, I genuinely believe that the team and each individual involved had been getting better with each game,” he said. “It’s only a loss if you don’t learn from it.
“We were brutally honest with each other after the game and during the last couple of days. I was looking for a reaction from the guys and I’ve seen the guys train really well these last few days as they revisit what they can do well and look at what they can do to get better.”
Opener Tom Haines remains Sussex’s top run-scorer, with 492 from his ten innings, which puts him fifth overall, just 75 runs behind championship leader David Bedingham, of Durham.
In the bowling, only Somerset’s Craig Overton (32) and Gloucestershire’s Ryan Higgins (28) have more wickets than Robinson. Both have played a match more than the England hopeful.
Robinson’s average of 13.80 is the best among all bowlers to have taken at least five wickets this season.
Kent are the only side in group three without a win in the opening five rounds of the championship. Three heavy defeats and two draws leave Kent at the bottom of the table on 38 points.