By Rich Hook
Sussex County Cricket Club’s players are confident of maintaining the winning habit on their return to Division One of the LV= County Championship.
Speaking at the opening of a new ward at Queen Victoria Hospital before the season, wicketkeeper-batsman Andrew Hodd said: “There’s a good ethos around the club. I really think we can put in a decent title bid if our big guns perform.”
Sussex return many of the stars from their 2006 and 2007 County Championship winning sides, including Ashes-winning wicketkeeper Matt Prior, club captain Michael Yardy and Zimbabwean vice-captain Murray Goodwin.
This, combined with exciting new signings, like South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell and New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent, has created a great deal of anticipation ahead of the new season at Hove.
Sussex’s professional cricket manager, Mark Robinson, said: “We’re definitely looking to kick-on this season.
“The club has shown great ambition in expanding the ground and we’ve got a great bunch of lads in place, so we’re setting out to create a team that the whole county can be proud of.”
The team will face tight competition for the 2011 County Championship trophy. Bookmakers have installed Somerset as favourites, with defending champions Notts and Kevin Pietersen’s Hampshire also looking strong.
But Robinson remains confident that his team can be successful. He added: “We always go out there to win matches.
“We played an attacking philosophy last season with two spinners and we will look to carry that on, with players like Wayne [Parnell] and Naved [Arif] coming in to give us even more options on the bowling front.”
One stumbling block could ironically be the form of Sussex’s players in the international sphere, with the club contributing more players than any other county to England’s World Cup campaign in India.
As a result, Sussex look set to start the new season with far from their best XI, but Robinson is pleased for his players success.
He said: “Obviously any side would love to have the likes of Matts [Matt Prior], Luke [Wright] and Yards [Michael Yardy] available every week, but we’re very proud to have seen them out there representing Sussex.”
If the County Championship season matches the excitement of the World Cup then fans down at the Hove will have a lot to look forward to in the coming months.