Indian fast-bowling ace Ishant Sharma will join Sussex for the first two months of the 2018 county season.
Sharma will be with the club from Wednesday, April 4, to Monday, June 4, making him available for Sussex’s first five fixtures in the Specsavers County Championship and all eight of Sussex Sharks’ Royal London One-Day Cup group matches.
The 29-year-old from Delhi made his international debut in 2007 and has since played 81 Tests, 80 one-day internationals (ODIs) and 14 T20 internationals (T20Is) for India.
Only three Indian seamers have more wickets than Sharma in Test cricket, with his 234 dismissals making him the ninth most prolific Indian Test bowler overall.
His most recent Test appearances came during India’s three-match series against South Africa last month, where he played in the second and Third tests and took eight wickets. Sharma also has 115 ODI and eight T20I wickets to his name.
The tall right-armer said: “It’s a great honour to represent Sussex CCC, the oldest first-class county, and I am looking forward with excitement to my maiden stint in county cricket. I would like to extend a special thanks to Sussex for taking note of my ongoing performances and deeming me suitable for this opportunity. I hope to add value during my time as part of the Sussex family this season.”
Sharma's signing comes after Sussex recruited Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan for their T20 Blast campaign.
Sussex’s director of cricket Keith Greenfield explained the rationale behind the signing: “Securing Ishant’s services has been very important for us. Once Jofra [Archer] and CJ [Chris Jordan] were picked up in the IPL draft, it became crucial to sign an experienced international-quality seam bowler who could provide valuable support and know-how to the rest of the seamers.
“Ishant has the attributes to be very successful in early season English conditions and a great role model. He fits the bill perfectly and we look forward to welcoming him to Sussex Cricket.”
Head coach Jason Gillespie added: “We’re delighted to secure the services of an experienced and very skilful international seamer. We believe Ishant will fit right into the Sussex dressing room and we are all really looking forward to welcoming him to Hove.”
Sharma’s stint with Sussex will be his first in county cricket, although he has experience of bowling in England having toured with India in 2011 and 2014 and played in the 2009 ICC World T20 and 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. He has enjoyed notable successes in English conditions, including recording his test best figures of 7-74 during the second innings of India’s win at Lord’s in 2014.
He was also the fourth highest wicket taker in the 2013 Champions Trophy, a tournament India won. His ten victims put him behind only James Anderson (11), Mitch McClenaghan (11) and Indian teammate, Ravindra Jadeja (12) in the competition’s list of top wicket-takers.