LAST 5 MATCHES:
WORCS won by 6 wickets – Aug 30, 2021
MATCH DRAWN – Sept 23, 2019
MATCH DRAWN – Jun 18, 2019
SUSSEX won by 9 wickets – Aug 6, 2017
SUSSEX won by an innings and 7 runs – June 2, 2017
Championship Division 3: 6th
Vitality Blast: Semi-final
Royal London One Day Cup Group 1: 7th
Captains: Tom Haines (CC and RL), Ravi Bopara (Blast)
Head Coach: Ian Salisbury
T20 Head Coach: James Kirtley
Overseas: Mohammed Rizwan (PAK), Cheteshwar Pujara (IND), Rashid Khan (AFG), Josh Philippe (AUS)
There’s been no secret that Sussex have gone through some significant changes in their playing squad, and 23-year-old opening batsman Tom Haines was confirmed as their County Championship captain in March. He succeeded the outgoing Ben Brown, who departed for Hampshire following the last campaign.
He wasn’t the only departure in a winter, Chris Jordan left for Surrey and Phil Salt for Lancashire, but the gaping hole that has been left provides a sterling opportunity for a crop of talented young cricketers.
It’s a massive task for Haines, who only has 35 first-class games under his belt, but the addition of Steven Finn could prove invaluable with 566 first-class wickets to his name in an already impressive career spanning 17 years.
The addition of Fynn Hudson-Prentice from Derbyshire also looks shrewd business, the 26-year-old, born in Haywards Heath, sealed his return with a winter move back to the 1st Central County Ground.
The exciting Delray Rawlins will also offer some fire-power in the middle order looking to shake off the ‘potential’ tag that surrounds the journey of young cricketers.
Bermudan-born Rawlins, who remains on the England radar in the limited-overs format, will undoubtedly be looking to improve that first-class batting average, which stands at 22.78.
Opening batsman Alistair Orr only has eight first-class matches to his name, but his poise and ability to grind out runs are already apparent.
He celebrated his 21st birthday just 24 hours before the opener against Nottinghamshire and scored 68 and 45 in his two innings.
Five 50s and one hundred, including two of those half-centuries coming at New Road back in August 2021, shows he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Batsman Tom Clark, who made his maiden first-class century in the opening fixture, actually made his first-class debut against Worcestershire back in the drawn match in 2019 down at Hove, a four-day game that only managed 135.4 overs over four days.
Their first match of the 2022 campaign against Nottinghamshire proved that fine margins can cost a game, with a crumbling in the second innings on day four and failure to capitalise on a promising position on day two.
Having had Notts 52-4, they surrendered control to Steven Mullaney and Joey Evison, who both made centuries before they declared on 534-9 on day three.
Behind by 159 runs, and having begun day four on 29-1, they mustered 172 and left Notts requiring only 14 for victory, which they duly did and sealed a 10-wicket win.
Manoeuvring themselves into competitive positions with an exceptionally young side won’t be too difficult with their talent; however, question marks remain around closing out of games in the longer format.
First-class appearances from the two opening fixture squads: Sussex and Worcestershire
· Ali Orr – 9
· Tom Haines(c) – 36
· Tom Alsop – 65
· Tom Clark – 14
· Oli Carter(wk) – 8
· Danial Ibrahim – 7
· Delray Rawlins – 30
· Archie Lenham – 2
· Steven Finn – 161
· Henry Crocombe – 15
· Jamie Atkins – 7
· Jake Libby – 76
· Ed Pollock – 6
· Azhar Ali – 226
· Jack Haynes – 20
· Brett D’Oliveira (c) – 79
· Ed Barnard – 79
· Ben Cox(wk) – 136
· Joe Leach – 107
· Josh Baker – 6
· Dillon Pennington – 26
· Charlie Morris – 70
The ever-green Finn made up almost half of their first-class appearances in their opening game, so the added addition of overseas stars Mohammad Rizwan and Cheteshwar Pujara are likely to be crucial to their season, adding both batting depth and experience.
Both were involved in their trip to Derbyshire starting last week, with Pujara hitting a double hundred in the second innings to help Sussex to a draw.