Having suffered a heavy defeat in their LV= County Championship opener at Lancashire, Sussex County Cricket Club now await the return of key players: Matt Prior, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy and Ed Joyce.
With these four in action, Sussex had more players in action at the Cricket World Cup than ever before.
Tom Stewart considers how they performed in the Indian Subcontinent, and how each can impact on Sussex’s domestic campaign this season.
- Matt Prior (Wicket Keeper/Batsman, England)
After an impressive winter behind the stumps, expectations were high for a player who recently cemented his place in the England side.
But Prior had a poor World Cup by anyone’s standards, let alone his own.
He never really got going as England’s opener – his top score a meagre 22 in England’s defeat to Sri Lanka.
He disappointed even more by scores of 0, 6 and 15 against minnows Netherlands, Ireland and Bangladesh.
He did, however, have a solid tournament as wicket-keeper, claiming 7 catches, 3 stumpings and 3 run-outs.
It is unlikely that Prior will feature much for Sussex this season, with the wicket-keeper likely to keep his place behind the stumps for test matches against Sri Lanka and India.
While they may lack Prior’s ability with the bat, both Andrew Hodd and Ben Brown are more than capable replacements for Sussex.
Hodd is arguably an even better wicket-keeper than Prior, and aged 27, it could be time for him to make the position his own.
- Luke Wright (All-rounder, England)
A player often earmarked as a long term replacement for Andrew Flintoff, Wright was unfortunate to play just two games in the tournament.
It could be argued that his innings of 44 from 57 against West Indies was one of the best played by an England player in the tournament.
He was solid, if unspectacular, with the ball, conceding just 18 and 17 runs against India and South Africa, without taking a wicket.
An in-form Luke Wright is crucial to Sussex’s fortunes, particularly in one-day games. His big hitting and accurate bowling has made him one of the best one-day players on the county circuit.
It is unlikely that Wright will be included in the England test squad and he’s likely to miss much of June and September during the ODI and Twenty20 series, leaving Sussex thin on the ground in the middle order.
- Michael Yardy (All-rounder, England)
The Sussex captain had a tournament to forget in India, playing in three games, Yardy recorded scores of 13 (vs India), 3 (vs Ireland) and 3 (vs South Africa).
It was his bowling performance that was most alarming, however. His usual style of economic spin bowling was exposed, as he recorded stats of 10-0-64-1 against India, 7-0-49-0 against Ireland and 9-1-46-1 against South Africa.
But his poor performance can almost certainly be explained by the fact that he was forced to fly back to England suffering from depression.
While Yardy missed Sussex’s opener, he has since returned to training, but it is anyone’s guess when he will be ready to return to skipper the side.
A man often regarded as Sussex’s greatest-ever captain, Yardy is vital to Sussex in both forms of the game.
The captain provide’s steady batting, and is an excellent one-day bowler, where his tidy spin bowling can frustrate any batsman.
His absense leaves Sussex not just without their leader, but also without one of their best players.
- Ed Joyce (Batsman, Ireland)
Probably the most impressive of Sussex’s performers in the World Cup.
Joyce rejoined the Ireland team, after his outings with England and played in all six of his team’s games. Highlights included top scoring with 84 against West Indies, and providing a vital 32 in the shock victory over England.
Joyce is one of the best batsman on the county circuit and Sussex’s chances, particularly in the four-day game, rely heavily on his ability to stay in-form.
Joyce also has the experience to help emerging batsman like Joe Gatting, Matt Machan and Luke Wells. Joyce will also share the captaincy with Murray Goodwin in Yardy’s absence.