Sussex Sharks skipper: This is one of best T20 sides I've played in
A hand injury sustained in fielding practice may have kept skipper Luke Wright out of Sussex Sharks’ first two Vitality Blast T20 games.
But he will have looked on unsurprised at the start they made in beating Gloucestershire and Hampshire. And on Tuesday night he joined in the fun himself – making a blistering 75 to help the Sharks to win No3, a seven-wicket triumph over Essex.
Starring displays by Phil Salt, George Garton, Ravi Bopara and 16-year-old Archie Lenham have enabled the Sharks to hit the ground running in the south group ahead of their next two games - at The Oval on Thursday and at home to Somerset on Friday.
Speaking to us shortly before the campaign began, Wright – in his 18th season at Sussex – told of his hopes his team of stars could grab glory.
“It is one of the best sides I’ve ever played in,” he said. “At full strength we are as good as any franchise team I’ve ever come across.
“It’s a pretty special side: [Tymal] Mills, CJ [Chris Jordan] and Rashid Khan. We’ve got as good a team as anyone.
“Hopefully, we can get those guys together as much as possible... if we do, I back us to be at the latter stages.”
As always Finals Day at Edgbaston is the aim for a Sussex side stocked with T20 talent.
After back-to-back quarter-final exits, the Sharks, with newly appointed head coach James Kirtley guiding them, will be looking to reach their first finals day since finishing as runners-up in 2018. “We’re desperate to get to Finals Day,” explained Wright, who finished as the Sharks highest run-scorer with 411 in 11 innings last season. “We were close last year but it’s so hard to get out of the south group - let alone any further.” Alongside the side’s experienced heads is an exciting pool of young talent. In particular, Garton and Delray Rawlins look to build on impressive outings with bat and ball last season.
“We need the youngsters for the energy and fire around the field,” said Wright, whose new white-ball contract keeps him at Hove until at least 2023.
“It’s great we’ve got these guys coming through to step up when the more experienced guys aren’t there.
“It’s brilliant having youngsters play but you need someone to guide them in the pressure moments. That mix is why we’ve been successful.”
Salt’s sizzling start has yielded 162 runs in three games and Wright said: “With Phil, you know he’s going to crack on; he’s either going to be out or he’s going to smack it.”