T20 Blast preview: Sussex star Cachopa is happy to keep

Wicketkeepers – or lack of them – seem to be making as many headlines as batsman and bowlers in this season’s NatWest T20 Blast.

Craig Cachopa hits out in the T20
Craig Cachopa hits out in the T20

Worcestershire’s decision to dispense with Ben Cox and employ him in the field instead during last week’s win over Northants provided plenty of headlines.

Meanwhile, down at Hove, Sussex batsman Craig Cachopa is relishing an unexpected opportunity to pull on the gloves, even though wicket-keeping is a skill he has plenty of experience of.

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The 23-year-old grew up in New Zealand as a keeper-batsman and toured England in that role with the Kiwis’ under-19 side in 2008. So when skipper Luke Wright asked him to go behind the stumps again against Somerset three weeks ago he was happy to accept.

Cachopa said: “Luke said to me when he took over as skipper to make sure I was ready to go so I wasn’t surprised to be asked.

“Wicket-keeping was how I got my break in first-class cricket when I was younger with Wellington so it is something I have always kept in my back pocket in case I am called upon.

Cachopa admits he was a bit rusty at Taunton having only had one warm-up game against a Sussex League XI to reacquaint himself with the gloves.

But he has yet to concede a bye yet in two matches and one fine take down the leg-side off Tymal Mills against Middlesex at Hove a fortnight ago was evidence that he has the necessary athleticism.

“The last time I kept was for Auckland about a year and a half ago as the usual guy went down for one game so I filled in,” he added. “Apart from that I put the gloves on for Reigate Priory last year just to keep things ticking over.

“I know I’m not the world’s greatest keeper but I can do a job in white ball cricket.”

With two wins out of four so far Sussex are looking to their weekend double-header to give their South Group campaign some momentum. They host Essex Eagles at Hove on Friday (7pm) while Sunday’s local derby at Arundel Castle CC against a Surrey side likely to include Kevin Pietersen looks like attracting a crowd of around 7,500, with 5,000 advance tickets already sold.

Cachopa added: “We have been in every game except the one against Middlesex and the win down at Somerset was a really good result. We should have got over the line against Kent but we’re still in a decent position and things are looking good.”

Sussex are hoping Ajmal Shahzad, who returned to action in the second team after a month out with a bicep injury, could play against Surrey.

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