Tuesday 15 April 2008 

Sussex 2008 - Selected Interviews From Launch Day

Cricket World's Richard Reardon travelled to Hove for Sussex's launch of the 2008 County season, catching up with a number of players, some of whom will play a full part in their title defence, others of whom will be playing for England this summer.

Matt Prior

Back with Sussex after a stint with England, how did it all go? Do you have any regrets?

No absolutely not, last summer was fantastic for so many reasons; obviously playing for England is the greatest honour, some thing that as a young lad you dream of doing. But International sport has its highs and lows and I had some fantastic highs and obviously now I’m back with Sussex, as you said I have no regrets. I worked as hard as I possibly could work, the decisions I made and what I wanted to work on I have no regret about that. Now I’m just looking forward to being back with Sussex a fantastic club to be apart off. I’m looking forward to hopefully performing well.

Obviously with you and Andrew Hodd, it’s going to be stiff competition for the wicket-keeping gloves isn’t it?

Yeah absolutely but that’s a good thing. I’ve always said that and when Tim Ambrose was down here everyone went on about the competition and the rivalry, that’s sport and that can only be healthy. Hoddy will keep pushing me and I’ll be pushing him, the two of us will just keep improving and the best man will play.

It can only be good for Sussex can’t it?

Absolutely!

Are you expecting to get the first nod, being an ex-England pro and him still being relatively young?

I would hope so. It’s quite easy for people to say that Hoddy had a fantastic year, he did brilliantly. Obviously there is competition for places but the thing you can’t take away is that I was England’s number one wicket keeper last year and I’ve got a Test average of over 40. I would like to think that my place is fairly secure; obviously it goes down on performance so no-ones place is certain. But I’d like to think I’d have a pretty good chance of starting.

I spoke to Robin Martin-Jenkins recently; he said the aim is to win the County Championship again. Is that like the Holy Grail for County sides?

I think that different clubs have different goals. With Sussex the county championship has always been kind of special. I think the fact we hadn’t won it for 164 years until 2003 was probably one of the reasons why it made it so special. Obviously to win it 3 times since then has been absolutely fantastic. I think that a lot of people agree that the championship over the whole season is not something you can be lucky with, its not something you can have one good day or a couple of good days, it’s basically the best team over the whole summer wins it, that’s what makes it a special competition to win.

Who do you most fear this season? Who’s going to provide the stiffest competition for you?

If you look around the counties there are a lot of good players, county cricket is going from strength to strength I believe and there are a number of teams that could make a play for the championship. The thing we have to worry about is making sure that we are ready for what we want to do and how we are going to play our cricket as individuals and as a team. In six months for now we will all find out.

Obviously the one overseas rule is going to influence things this year, are you going to miss Rana Naved this year?

Yeah absolutely who wouldn’t, any team would miss Rana he’s no only a fantastic cricketer, a fantastic performer but an unbelievably great bloke as well. To have him in the changing room was as exciting as having him bowl. So from that point of view he will be missed of course, he’s a fantastic asset.

Luke Wright

We saw you in blistering form last year in the 20/20. How do you think this year will go? You were a bit of an unknown quantity last year; obviously you’re a bit more renowned this year.

Last year people probably didn’t really know what I was about and now there will probably be a bit more analysis and probably a bit more thought about it now as people know you. But you just got to not put much pressure on yourself and just go out and do it like I did last year.

What are you hopes with England this year? You hoping to be involved with the one-day team as well as the 20/20?

Definitely I think it’s just carrying on from getting a place in the winter in New Zealand, finished off in the team, luckily it went well and I’ve just got to start well and hope I get that place again. That’s obviously the plan I’ve just got to concentrate on getting some form with Sussex early on.

How does it affect you when you play so much 20/20 cricket, and you’re playing a four day county championship game?

Not too badly to be honest, obviously it’s a totally different game there no way like each other. We normally get a couple of days in between so we can practice and change your mode from 20/20 to four day cricket, at times it is quite hard playing yourself in when you want to work down the wicket and try and slog one but luckily we get enough time to prepare to change your mind set.

An indifferent pre season tour in Abu Dhabi but a win against Gloucester last week, can you read much into these games so early only in the season?

When we came back we found some things in Abu Dhabi that we wanted to work on and luckily we’ve come back and we’ve played well. It’s like anything you want to get into a winning habit early on and obviously we’ll be looking to carry that on against the MCC next week.

Does the MCC game you play at the start of the season give you much of an advantage over other sides in terms of preparation for the season?

I don’t know about advantage but it’s definitely a great friendly for us to play, also you’re playing against some of the top players around the country, so it’s obviously a great standard and it does get you straight into competitive cricket playing at Lords. So hopefully it will get us in the competitive mindset ready for the Rose Bowl.

I spoke to Robin Martin-Jenkins recently and he said the team were looking to win the County Championship again, is that the one everyone goes after?

Yeah I think the County Championships the massive one, the 20/20 has come along so big now as well. I think any tournament you set out in at the start of the season looking to win and if you don’t go so well in one dayers you concentrate on other things. If you speak to Robbo (Mark Robinson) he’ll tell you we will go for every trophy and take it from there.