Rizwan, Khan, Philippe and Selfert - why overseas quartet are vital to Sussex Sharks' Blast hopes

After last season’s disappointment of losing on Vitality Blast finals day, Sussex will be desperate to go one better and win the Trophy for the first time since 2009 in their campaign - which gets under way this evening.

However, that’s going to be easier said than done, with two England Internationals in Phil Salt and Chris Jordan having moved to new counties, the unfortunate Jofra Archer now side-lined for the season, and David Wiese having returned to South Africa.

Add to that, fitness concerns around George Garton and Fynn Hudson-Prentice, and Sussex start their campaign very much on the back foot. On the positive side, they have an exciting quartet of overseas players who will rotate at various stages of the competition.

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That overseas contingent is headed by Mohammed Rizwan, the Wisden T20 Player of the Year, and when he’s unavailable due to International commitments, the Australian Josh Philippe and New Zealander Tim Seifert will share the wicketkeeping duties.

Mohammed Rizwan / Picture: Getty

Sussex will also be delighted to have again secured the services of Rashid Khan, who showed in last season’s quarter final against Yorkshire that not only is he a wizard with the ball, but can also win games with the bat.

Luke Wright may have stepped down from the captaincy, but he will again be key to any Sussex success. His 370 runs last season at an average of 41 was a tremendous performance at the top of the order. However, too often when he was dismissed, the rest of the batting line up simply fell away. Individually, there were good performances with the bat, but consistency was a problem and rarely did Sussex bat well together as a unit.

Last season we saw glimpses of the form that made the new T20 skipper Ravi Bopara one of the top batsman in the Blast during his time at Essex. Sussex will need all of his experience and guile to help the middle lower order, particularly when pressure is mounting during a run chase.

The bowling attack will be again be spearheaded by Tymal Mills, who, despite returning early from the Indian Premier League with an injury, now looks fit and raring to go. His experience will be vital in the absence of Jordan and Archer.

Rashid Khan / Picture: Getty

Steve Finn, in his first season at Sussex since the move from Middlesex, will also provide much needed experience, although he has struggled with a knee injury during the early weeks of the Championship season.

The spin options will again fall to Delray Rawlins, Will Beer, and 17-year-old Archie Lenham who showed last season that he’s not fazed by the big occasion. One of the highlights of the campaign was Archie taking a wicket with his first ball in the game against Hampshire at Hove. His fielding also caught the eye, with the catch he took at the Oval at fine leg being perhaps the catch of the season.

On paper, this season’s squad doesn’t appear to have quite the strength in depth of previous campaigns, particularly in the bowling department. However, with World Class performers such as Wright, Rizwan, Mills and Khan in the side, anything is possible!

BBC Radio Sussex are providing ball by ball commentary on all the games both online and via their DAB frequencies. Its always an exciting listen!