With the 2013 County Cricket Championship still about four months away, there is one Sussex player raring to go.
Highly-rated left-arm seamer Lewis Hatchett is looking to cement his place in the first XI after enduring an indifferent season in 2012.
The 22-year-old made his Championship debut in 2010, taking two wickets against Middlesex, before he claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in his next match against Leicestershire, with figures of 5-47.
The Upper Beeding-based bowler played one more County Championship game that season and was rewarded with a three-year deal, with coach Mark Davis describing him, at the time, as “an exciting prospect, destined for a long and successful career”.
After just one first-class appearance in the 2011 season, Hatchett went back to Australia for the winter to find his top form ready for 2012.
He said: “Last season was up and down for me.
“I went away to a club I had played for previously in Australia, worked hard and was bowling as well as I had ever bowled.”
After a successful time down under, Hatchett found himself in the team for Sussex’s first County Championship game of the season. He said: “I was selected at the Oval for our opening game against Surrey and got a wicket but we went and signed Steve Magoffin soon afterwards and Monty Panesar came back into the team and I was back in the seconds.
“It was frustrating to drop down but I knew I had to keep at it to get my opportunity to get back into the firsts.
“I was waiting and waiting but the chance didn’t come for a number of reasons. The seamers were bowling well and the bad weather breaks meant the lack of continuous games didn’t really highlight the bowlers who were in and out of form.”
He returned to the first team for the visit of Somerset in the penultimate game, taking 3-25 off 7.5 overs in the first innings but failed to get a wicket in the second. He was again selected for the final game of the season in defeat at Durham, finishing with match figures of 4-113 from 25 overs.
Post-season has seen Hatchett undergo minor surgery in both knees to sort tendon problems and, with his contract expiring next year, it is a big year for the bowler.
He added: “I’ve just started my rehab programme, which should last 10 to 12 weeks and I’m hoping to get fully fit for our pre-season trip to Port Elizabeth in February.
“I want to play as much four-day cricket as possible. Hopefully, I can play regularly, cement my place in the team and show everybody what I know I’m capable of.”