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Tough week that ends on a high

Cheteshwar Pujara acknowledges his first hundred since January 2020 during Sussex's brilliant rearguard action to rescue a draw against Derbyshire last week. Sussex followed on 331 runs behind on first innings, but responded with 515 for three, with captain Tom Haines (243) and Pujara (201 not out) putting on 351 for the third wicket (Photograph courtesy of Sussex County Cricket Club)

It has been a difficult week and a bit with not being selected in The Hundred draft and then being sent to the second XI to accommodate our two overseas signings — Cheteshwar Pujara and Mohammad Rizwan — in making their debuts away to Derbyshire. But I’m glad my two bowling performances have warranted a quick recall for the four-day match away to Worcestershire starting today.

Obviously, it’s disappointing to miss out, but I got a chance in the second team to come and put in a performance to try and get back in. You are in the second team either because you’re coming back from injury or you missed out on the first team, and you got to go and push your case to get back in.

In my case, I would obviously rather go and perform and get back in, which is pleasing after two five-wicket hauls. Everyone wants to play in the first team, but it’s nice to warrant getting in the first team off a couple of performances playing in the second team and doing well.

I approach this like any other game, really. It’s a game of cricket; nothing changes — the ball is still red and it’s still round. I just want to try to score as many runs as possible, and try and get as many wickets as possible while going for the least amount of runs.

It was nice to see Pujara go well at Derby with the unbeaten double hundred that saved the match after following on, but for myself, it’s just all about performing to get back in, really.

That began with the ball with a five-wicket haul last week after I was parachuted into the second team for the second innings of the fixture against Kent. And this week, I followed up with another five in the first innings of the four-day match against Gloucestershire at the Seat Unique Stadium in Bristol.

But it’s with the bat where I need to kick on. I made 22 in the Kent match and then was out second ball without scoring in the first innings against Gloucestershire [which reaches its conclusion today]. I’ve been hitting the ball pretty nicely, moving well, but sometimes it’s different in second-team cricket. You get spoilt with first-team cricket with decent wickets; wickets in second-team cricket aren’t always as good. But it’s one of those things where once you get a start, it’s about going on and cashing in.

There are a lot of cricketers in this position of not being able to turn decent starts into big scores — not a novel thing or unique to me. I find myself getting to 20 or 30 reasonably quickly, and not kicking on; that's probably the next step in my development.

In that same vein, it was great to see how the first team saved the game against Derbyshire after being asked to follow on a mammoth 331 runs behind on first innings. When you find yourself in those situations, your coaches are rallying around asking you to fight back, and those two — Chets [Pujara, who made 201 not out] and Hainesy [Tom Haines, who made 243] — showed that very well. Once they got in, they cashed in and went very big. So, pleasing for them, and hopefully a few of the lads can take that into some of their games.

They broke a number of records in getting us to 513 for three at stumps and, with Shan Masood scoring 239 in Derbyshire’s 505 for eight declared, it was only the eleventh time in the history of county cricket that there were three double hundreds in the same match!

This was big for Tom, who has taken over the captaincy at only 23. The past two seasons, three seasons, we’ve managed to find ourselves playing in some pretty decent teams and learning a lot. So, I think he’s putting stuff together, he’s worked it out the past two seasons and he's scored quite a lot of runs.

I did mention The Hundred earlier. It’s one of those things, not being drafted. I think there was a bit of interest from a couple of different franchises. And they opted to go for a skill set that’s different from mine, which is just how the game goes. I wouldn’t say I was down, but I was a bit gutted to not be picked up. But I feel like going in as a wild card is probably the best way to do it, I’d say, because you’re going in on form.

Which means you sort of give yourself a better chance of going in and playing. We saw that last year with Jake Lintott at the Southern Brave. He came in as a wild card, and then he killed it. So, not too down, but you just go and perform, and it's one of those things that you get straight back in. I have a bit of time between now and June when the wild-card selections are made to state my case.

Finally, on the domestic scene in Bermuda, it was great to see Gus Logie signing on as head coach at my former club, Bailey’s Bay. Gus, he’s second to none. He got the boys to the World Cup in 2007, obviously he has a lot of respect around cricket and Bermuda, and I think it's only a positive for Bailey’s Bay to pick him up.

There are quite a few youngsters around that set-up at the moment and I think he’s the perfect guy to come in and give them a lot of guidance and a lot of knowledge, and help them kick on in their careers.

Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith

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Published April 21, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated April 25, 2022 at 10:42 am)

Tough week that ends on a high

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