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See you back at Hove in 2023

Young enough and good enough: Ali Orr, the main beneficiary of the end-of-season awards, with Sussex chief executive Rob Andrew (Photograph courtesy of Sussex County Cricket Club)

Our season has come to an end and I would like to put it out there that I fully expect to be a Sussex player next season, despite not being selected for the final three County Championship matches in the last year of my contract. The fine details are in the works and I’m just waiting for the final confirmation.

I have enjoyed the back end of this season, how we went about things as a unit. I feel like we're growing together as a team. Everyone’s pretty close in the dressing room and always has each other’s back; the culture has been very good recently. You could see that by the manner in which we bounced back against Glamorgan to secure a draw in the season finale, with captain Tom Haines and Ali Orr, our Young Player of the Year, putting on 328 for the first wicket following on. It was an outstanding performance of resilience, the captain following up carrying his bat for an unbeaten 108 in the first innings with 177 in the second. Ali, meanwhile, has had a great year and deserved to collect the lion’s share of the end-of-season awards this week, his 206 against Somerset in the Royal London One-Day Cup rightly honoured as the Champagne Moment of the Year. His 198 yesterday and a maiden first-class hundred by Danial Ibrahim showed the youthful promise at the club.

Personally, it has been an up-and-down season trying to figure out the best ways for me to prepare, the best way to try and get the most out of myself. I think midway through the season I started to figure out a few things within my game and started to get some results. Things were going in the right direction, sort of a gradual build-up to a few scores and all-round performances with bat and ball. I was pretty pleased with how the end of my T20 season went, and those four-day games in and around that period. And, obviously, the one-day competition, how we went about things as a team in getting to the semi-finals. I was quite happy that I was able to contribute to some really big wins.

The past three weeks have been about training and a solitary appearance in a rain-affected second XI match. End of season means planning to stay active during the winter as a professional cricketer. I’ve got a few things lined up, a couple of tournaments in the United States. It’s a bit of a waiting game to get into some of these franchise leagues. There have been a few drafts recently and teams are full-up, but with the World Cup coming up, the workloads on players and people travelling back and forth, you always find that there is a need for replacements. So, yeah, sometimes it’s just a waiting game. But I’ve got goals set out and areas that I want to improve on, and know I need to improve on. So it’s a push for that definitely up to Christmas. When you get to Christmastime, you get that break to reassess and go again.

The break could be potentially spending a few weeks in some warm weather — just to be outside and training outside. I love coming home to see family and friends, but sometimes in the world that we live in you can’t always make it. It is always a plan to come home, but I’ve got a few goals in mind and targets that I want to hit. And I feel like I want to make sure that I'm at or there about the targets.

I expect to be back at Hove from January, and it’s pretty full-on training from Monday to Friday, and then we move outdoors. We usually get a marquee outdoors [a temporary structure to protect against the elements], which is from mid to late February right up into April.

By then, the T20 World Cup in Australia will be done and dusted. This form of cricket is always interesting. Hard to put my finger on who should be the favourites, as it is always about that team who can find a method, find their form early and get on a roll. All the teams look strong. India just beat the team [Australia] who won the World Cup not even 12 months ago. England have a bit of a new-look team with some exciting players in it. Pakistan look strong as always, with Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam at the top of the innings, with their bowling and their spinners. New Zealand, you never count them out. Some of the players that they have in their team are world-class, and South Africa again the same. With it being in Australia, obviously they will know their conditions well and have that advantage wherever they play.

It will be interesting to see who finds that form and who finds their method in Australia on those wickets and on those outfields. Like most things, whoever figures that out the quickest is normally the team that comes out on top.

So that’s it for 2022 and the first year of the Delray Rawlins Column. It has been an honour and a privilege to put into words and share with the Bermuda public the life of a professional cricketer, and I am thankful to The Royal Gazette for the opportunity.

See you in 2023.

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Published September 30, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated September 29, 2022 at 5:27 pm)

See you back at Hove in 2023

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