Metro Bank One Day Cup: Haines relishes chance to lead Sussex
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The Sharks topped their group with six wins out of eight last year only to lose in the semi-finals against Lancashire and Haines, who will resume the captaincy having missed most of last year’s tournament with a broken hand, believes his team are capable of going well again.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Haines, who relishes the opportunity at the top of the order to transfer his aggressive, attacking approach from red to white-ball cricket.
“I missed most of last year when I was supposed to be captain after I broke my hand and [Cheteshwar] Pujara stepped in and took us to the semi-finals.
“I like being captain and thinking about the decisions I have to make. It has definitely improved me as a cricketer, learning about how to deal with pressure situations. I can also lean on guys like Puj and Tom Alsop, who have so much experience.”
Haines’ confidence does not look to be misplaced. All of the key players from 2022 are available and Sussex have only lost two players – George Garton and Tymal Mills – to The Hundred, fewer than most of their rivals. And Mills would not have been in contention anyway.
Pujara will return from playing in India this week in time for Sussex’s opening match against Durham at Hove while coach Paul Farbrace expects both Ali Orr and Steve Finn to be fit for the tournament after recovering from injury. Pujara scored 624 runs including three hundreds last year and Haines’ opening partner Orr wasn’t far behind with 526, 206 coming in one innings against Somerset when he scored Sussex’s first List A double hundred.
Others like Tom Clark, James Coles and Jack Carson will also play vital roles alongside the experienced Pujara and Alsop. Look out too for 17-year-old Academy batter Henry Rogers, who made 74 off 73 balls in Sunday’s warm-up match against Oxfordshire.
Finn’s experience – he has taken 201 List A wickets – will be important and after nearly a year on the sidelines Farbrace is anxious to have him back. “He is an excellent, intelligent, senior professional, who has been a role model for the bowlers in our group all year,” said Farbrace. “But the thing he wants to do more than anything is to get back on the field helping the team, and he isn’t far away so that is great news for us.”
Sussex’s last one-day triumph was back in 2006. That squad have all retired of course, although James Kirtley – who took five wickets in the Lord’s final against Lancashire – is a link to 17 years ago in his role as fast-bowling coach.
“It’s within our grasp to go one better and it would be brilliant to get to the final, winning trophies like those great Sussex teams of the past is what we’re aiming for,” added Haines. “We’ve got quite a settled group and we’re confident we can do well.”
FARBRACE: PRESSURE IS ON US NOW
The 50-over white-ball competition provided the Sussex faithful with some unforgettable days home and away last season, with records tumbling left right and centre, and an explosive approach to the format that saw the Sharks top the group and reach the semi-finals.
Paul Farbrace thinks that with last year’s success, comes added expectation: “I think there is a bit of pressure on the team this year, which there probably hasn’t been in any other competition, simply because the team got to the semi-final last year, which I quite like the idea of.
“That for me is what I am looking forward to most, to see how they handle the expectation of winning games.”
He continues: “As far as I am concerned it is absolutely about winning and in terms of 50-over cricket, there will be members and spectators who having watched the team last year, will be expecting to see the team win plenty of games again and I think that is a fair expectation.”
As well as having the added expectation to get results, Farbrace is adamant that the team will only play the game on the front foot:
“I only know how to play one way in this format and that’s to be as positive, as attacking and as aggressive as you possibly can be.
“I am looking forward to it, I think it is a brilliant release of the grind of four-day cricket and I am excited to see how this group deals with that weight of expectation.”
Ali Orr was in scintillating form in last year's One Day Cup, scoring 526 runs at an average of 58.44 including the first-ever double-century in List A cricket for a Sussex player
Much has been made of the young, exciting talent the Sharks squad possesses, however Farbrace will also be welcoming two extremely experienced, high-level cricketers back into the frame for the tournament:
“We have pretty much got a full squad to pick from, with only George Garton away at The Hundred, Steven Finn and Ali Orr are close to returning to fitness and we of course have Pujara back with us.
“It’s no secret that we are lacking in some experience in this squad, so to have Finny and Puj coming back in will be invaluable to us.
“The most important any senior player can do for a team is to take their wickets and score their runs, having said that Finny has been outstanding for us off the field when he’s been injured.
“He is an excellent, intelligent, senior professional, who has been a role model for the bowlers in our group all year.
“But the thing he wants to do more than anything is to get back on the field helping the team, and he isn’t far away so that is great news for us.”
With much of the talk in cricket now focused on the progression of the red-ball and Test game, as well as the focus on franchise cricket around the world, the 50-over game can sometimes feel like a forgotten format, however Paul Farbrace still feels it has an important role to play for the teams and the members watching:
“I think there is scope to develop the 50-over game, but the great thing is it provides fantastic opportunities for professionals to continue playing throughout August and it also provides a chance for players to bridge the gap between red-ball and T20 cricket.
“Now, when you talk to a lot of County cricket members, they will tell you how much they love the 50-over cricket at their grounds, particularly as they get to watch many of the homegrown players they support.”