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Watching Cheteshwar Pujara go about his business has been different gravy

Cheteshwar Pujara has been a mainstay for Sussex in the Royal London One-Day Cup, showing he is not just a Test grafter (Photograph courtesy of Sussex County Cricket Club)

This has been a good period at Sussex during the Royal London One-Day Cup, probably our best of the season. But because we have been going so well, I haven’t had as many opportunities with the bat. Thankfully, I’ve been able to contribute with the ball.

We’ve put ourselves in a nice position to potentially get through to the knockout stage. There are four or five teams that may be in contention. A few still have to play each other, so that will rule a few out. We’ve set ourselves up quite nicely, unbeaten at home, which is a positive, still having one home game left. Hopefully we can come out of this little road trip against Durham and Somerset unbeaten as well. If we win these two, we are definitely looking at top three.

It’s always nice to contribute with wickets. Our bowlers in the powerplay and up top have been taking wickets and making it hard for teams to go big against us. I’ve had nice times to come on and bowl, but you still got to get wickets. It has been nice to chip in — I’ve got nine or ten in the competition so far. So that has been pleasing, a positive, and I’ll be just looking to keep working on it and keep trying to take wickets.

I was actually thinking over the past couple of days when we had some downtime that I hadn’t had much of a hit since the 91 against Gloucestershire. But I’ll take that as long as we’re posting big totals. That’s how the game goes, really — sometimes you might get a chance to have a long hit and other days not, like when I had about seven or eight overs to come in and go as big as I can. But you can't really complain watching the other boys go and get hundreds. Providing we qualify, there are a lot of games left in the competition to try and put in a performance with the bat.

There have been many bright spots. Ari Karvelas and Brad Currie with the new ball, and Ali Orr, Tom Alsop and Tom Clark at the top of the batting order but acting captain Cheteshwar Pujara has been different gravy with back-to-back hundreds, including a record 174. Any player of that calibre, you can’t really count out — even if his international reputation is one of being a resolute Test match batter. He averaged 50 before he played for us this year in List A cricket, and he showed it in some of the red-ball games that he can get on with the game and take teams down.

He has just shown his class. You always feel from the balcony when that moment’s coming and that he’s about to take someone down. Quite often he delivers. I think he has been brilliant, obviously as captain as well while Tom Haines has been out injured. He’s been very good leader for us; not only with his runs, but also in the field. Hopefully, we can keep going and get ourselves into a final.

It has not escaped attention that the second edition of The Hundred is running parallel to the one-day cup; how can you miss it? There have been some really exciting moments. It’s still quite a new tournament, but you’ll see that the teams who have worked it out the quickest have been the most successful — the Trent Rockets and London Spirit have been pretty good, and the Birmingham Phoenix have been pretty good to watch. Those three teams have probably worked it out again this year a bit quicker. You’re getting to the business end of the tournament now where it’s almost a must-win for a lot of teams. Almost every game from here on out, you’ve got to win to go all the way. So this is where it gets interesting, when you start looking at the tables, trying to figure out how many wins will get you in, who you got to beat and who’s got to lose. The intensity has been up and so has the skill level. Going into the business end, it will only get better and more intense.

On the international side, it was great to see Ollie Robinson in the squad for the Test match against South Africa, even if he didn’t make the final XI. Any Test area is exciting. England are coming in with a lot of confidence, having played two strong sides [India in one Test, New Zealand in three], dominated them and come out on top convincingly. I don’t think there will be any fears in that England team, as much as the South African boys have been trying to play down that label of “Bazball” or whatever they want to call it. They will definitely be aware of the threat and the ability in that England team. It’s exciting and it will be interesting to see how South Africa go. I can’t see England letting up in their approach to the game. So, either way, there should be some exciting cricket.

On a sadder note, Bermuda left Jersey winless in the last tournament of Challenge League B. This was such an inexperienced group, if you look at the team that went to the first tournament in 2019 to the teams that went to the last two — it was a big split in the number of games played for Bermuda. So getting the results we did shouldn’t be so much of a surprise. But there were some positives. It’s positive to see some of the young guys stepping up and doing well. If you mix a few more senior guys back into that team in the next tournament, you’ll be able to see more improvement and hopefully a few more tallies in the “W” column.

• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith

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Published August 18, 2022 at 7:46 am (Updated August 18, 2022 at 7:46 am)

Watching Cheteshwar Pujara go about his business has been different gravy

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