LEWIS Hatchett is looking forward to his first full season as a professional with Sussex County Cricket Club – despite his frustration at missing the start of the campaign through injury.
The 21-year-old from Upper Beeding signed a three-year contract at the end of last season but missed the opening County Championship game of the season at Lancashire, which finished in an innings defeat on Monday, after suffering a hamstring injury on their pre-season tour of Dubai last month.
Hatchett, a left-arm seamer who has taken 12 wickets in four first-class matches, is frustrated at being sidelined and said: “I want to play as much as I can and, as long as I bowl well, I’ll give myself as much chance as possible of getting in the team.
“I’m now going to have to go through the second team and try to get back into the first team.
“The new signings, if they bowl well, can get ahead of me but, at the end of the day, it’s a case of me putting together performances.”
Hatchett will be working on things off the field while he returns to fitness and said: “I was opening the bowling in a friendly in Dubai and was in the fourth over when my hamstring went, which wasn’t the best of starts.
“It gives me the chance to work on some things off the field, though.
“There’s quite a big gap between our first and second games of the season, so I want to get back but won’t rush it.
“Pressure training is something that’s been introduced, which is pretty much learning about myself and what I do sub-consciociously and whether it hinders or improves what I do.
“It’s just doing things to make me a better cricketer and, as I’m quite inexperienced in terms of county cricket, I’m open to new things.
“I’ve been for a scan and now it just depends on how quickly I heal. The physio said it would be four to six weeks, so I’m hoping for the shorter time.”
With Sussex back in Division 1 of the County Championship this year, Hatchett knows it it going to be a step-up and said: “It’s going to be that little bit harder and I’m going to have to bowl that little bit better.
“In Division 1, teams won’t give up that easily and there’s so much on it.
“Whether it’s winning the title or fighting against relegation, everyone’s fighting for as many points as they can get.
“We’ve had one-day success recently and are keen to keep our Division 1 status this year, but every competition we go into, we go in it to win.”
Hatchett, who has played Sussex League cricket for St James and East Grinstead, admits playing for Sussex is extra special being a local lad, and said: “Sussex pride themselves on being a family club and, for me to be home grown, makes it that much more special.”
With Matt Prior, Luke Wright and Michael Yardy all representing England in the World Cup, on any aspirations to play for England himself, Hatchett said: “I’m someone who thinks about the here and now.
“I’m looking to get fit and become a first-team regular for Sussex.
“But every cricketer who goes into county cricket wants to be an England cricketer and if an opportunity like that came along, it would be unbelievable.”