SUSSEX had a difficult T20 Blast campaign, losing ten games and winning just four, resulting in them finishing in seventh place and ten points behind a Quarterfinal spot.
This was a major disappointment for the Sharks after reaching the final day of the 2021 T20 Blast tournament, writes Joe Grant.
Ravi Bopara’s side have won just one of their last nine games in a dismal form that has left players, coaches and fans dejected.
The former England international took over as captain from Luke Wright at the start of the season but had a much more difficult task ahead of him and was having a hot time at it.
Sussex have always faced a difficult task this summer after losing star players Chris Jordan to Surrey and Phil Salt to Lancashire.
The Sharks made some good overseas signings, first bringing in Mohammad Rizwan and Josh Philippe, with Obed McCoy, Tim Seifert and Rashid Khan all appearing as overseas stars.
Due to international commitments, the foreign players were constantly chopping and changing, leading to a choppy lineup. This is something Bopara’s side will have to solve next year by trying to sign overseas players for a longer period of time so that the side can settle in and get used to playing together.
It is vital to Sussex’s success next year that they bring Rizwan back as he was a huge success at the head of the Order. If they can bring him back for a longer period of time, it’s likely that they can make further progress.
Another issue that needs to be resolved before next season is batting roster. With Luke Wright out for most of the tournament due to a foot injury, the batting order was constantly changing, creating problems for the team’s stability.
Tom Alsop, Ravi Bopara and Harrison Ward all batted at multiple positions throughout the campaign, which meant they were never really comfortable where they were batting and found the consistency needed to go far in a tournament bring.
For next year’s season, it would be beneficial for the team to have a solid batting squad that only changes when replacements come in for unavailable players. For example, if Harrison Ward opened the whole tournament, he would be more comfortable with how he has to play in that position.
Coach James Kirtley must find a succession plan for Luke Wright, who will be in the final year of his contract next season and has struggled with injuries and fitness this season. The former England international has been a fixture of the rankings for many years and has consistently delivered so it will be difficult to replace him. It’s important that the Sharks begin the search for that replacement, whether inside or outside the club.
Sussex would benefit from signing a couple of experienced T20 batsmen for next season as many games lacked depth and were left with a long tail that cost them games.
With the Sharks focused on bringing through a lot of younger players like Ward, Henry Crocombe and Archie Lenham, it’s important that they mix them up with experienced players who know how to go far in tournaments like they do with Steven Finn and Bopara tried .
One of the biggest issues of this campaign was the fitness issues that key players suffered throughout the season. George Garton has had a tricky tournament, suffering from long COVID which has meant missing games and not being able to play at his usual level, resulting in him making his England and IPL debuts last year.
Tymal Mills also missed a few games through injury, which left Bopara’s side short in the bowling department and had to turn to youngster Henry Crocombe, who hasn’t played much T20 cricket.
Mills and Garton have both been high performers in recent seasons and being able to keep them both fit for the full season next year is vital to the Sharks’ success.
Sussex needs to improve their in-game management, especially with the racquet. Bopara’s side were in a great position to win against both Gloucestershire and Essex at the 1st Central County Ground but threw away the points.
Many of the batsmen threw away their wickets with reckless shots instead of simply batting the ball around and watching the game, which would have garnered vital points.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/20258978.sussex-fail-succeed-t20-vitality-blast/?ref=rss Sussex fails at T20 Vitality Blast