New captain Ross Taylor believes Sussex Sharks have a squad that ‘ticks the boxes’ ahead of the start of the NatWest T20 Blast.
The experienced New Zealander, 33, is leading the county for the first time after he was appointed last month, starting at Arundel Castle on Sunday when a crowd of around 7,000 is expected for the Sharks’ South Group opener against Glamorgan.
Taylor flew home after the Champions Trophy for a fortnight’s rest and is refreshed and ready to lead a Sussex side who were champions in 2009 but have only made Finals Day once since.
On paper, Taylor’s optimism appears justified. Tymal Mills and Chris Jordan bring big-game experience from their stints in the IPL while Jofra Archer is capable of bowling as quickly as both of them.
Luke Wright, Laurie Evans and Chris Nash bring batting depth, Danny Briggs and Will Beer are two of the best spinners in the country in the format while both Stiaan van Zyl and David Wiese have played international T20 for South Africa.
Mills is not fit to face Glamorgan as he recovers from a hamstring injury but he will be unleashed at some stage over the next five weeks of group fixtures to hurl down his 90mph thunderbolts.
“I have got plenty of experience of leading a team in this format but the most important thing is that I already know a lot about the club, the players and the county from my time here last season,” said Taylor.
The Kiwi’s own contribution will also be crucial. He was Sussex’s leading scorer in 2016 with more than 400 runs.
“We missed out in a couple of tight games and ended up failing to reach the knockout stages last year but hopefully we can atone for that this summer.
“I certainly believe the squad is good enough. If you look at the personnel we tick a lot of boxes – real wheels with the ball up front in Tymal, Jofra and CJ, experienced spin bowlers and real depth in our batting too.
“I feel we need to be mentally strong to win those big moments that can decide games and stay focused.
“To be honest, all the teams in the South Group look ridiculously strong so we’re all set for what I hope will be a fantastic few weeks.”
With good advanced ticket sales reported for both Arundel and their games at the 1st Central County Ground, Sussex are geared up for a successful Blast, according to Chief Executive Rob Andrew.
“Since T20 cricket started back in 2003 the tournament has constantly evolved and I believe we now have a fantastic product which appeals to a wide range of people, whether they are serious cricket fans or not,” said Andrew. “We’re really looking forward to the next six weeks.”