Rashid Khan has praised the performance of team-mate Michael Burgess as the Sussex wicketkeeper settles into one of the toughest challenges facing any player during this season’s Vitality Blast.
Khan, the ICC world ranked No.1 T20 bowler, has made a predictably strong start to his Sussex career, with four wickets and an economy rate of just 6.50 in their opening two wins over Essex and Glamorgan.
And he reckons Burgess has made a pretty good start too in trying to keep to the mercurial Khan, who bowls his mix of leg-breaks, arm balls and googlies at such a remarkable speed.
“I only arrived last Monday and we had one net session on Tuesday but he’s picked it up pretty fast – he’s been amazing really,” said the 19-year-old. “It is quite difficult, but we have done some good sessions in the nets in the last few days between matches and we talk a lot during the games.
“I share a lot of information with him and hopefully make things more comfortable. There is obviously pressure on him and I just share my experience with him but he’s learning pretty fast.”
Burgess only keeps for Sussex in the T20 and trying to pick the variations of one of the best spinners in the world represents a fascinating challenge for a player who is also expected to make important middle-order runs as well.
Burgess said: “The thing that amazes me is how much he turns it at the pace he bowls. He is so quick through the air and in our first two games batsmen have found him hard to pick off the pitch. For someone so young he’s very experienced and it’s perfect for (captain) Luke Wright because he’s so reliable and sets his own fields. It might take a few more net sessions but I reckon I’ll be able to read him by the end of his stint, although I’m not going to say I won’t make any mistakes!”
After starting with two wins, one of the pre-tournament favourites will be hoping for more of the same this week when they go to the Ageas Bowl to face Hampshire on Thursday before entertaining Surrey at a sold-out 1st Central County Ground in Hove on Friday.
For Rashid it offers more opportunity to test himself on unfamiliar grounds and surfaces a lot different to those back in his native Afghanistan and around Asia where he has played most of his cricket so far.
“I have played a lot of T20 cricket and I feel I can bowl in any conditions,” he said. “I just focus on line and length and try to enjoy the experience. But in England the boundaries are very small and the pitches are not as good for spinners as they are in Asia, so I know if I do well on wickets in England I can bowl well in any conditions anywhere in the world. I’m just happy to do my bit for my team-mates and my county.”
Sussex have the luxury of being able to call on Chris Jordan after he missed their first two Blast games whilst on England duty and it will be interesting to see where Head Coach Jason Gillespie accommodates him if he decides to change a winning team.