Coach Gillespie pinpoints two players vital to Sussex season run-in

Jason Behrendorff on his Sussex debut / Picture by Getty Images
Jason Behrendorff on his Sussex debut / Picture by Getty Images

Sussex head coach Jason Gillespie has picked out two fast bowlers – one familiar, one new – for praise as the club heads towards the vital final weeks of the season.

The Sussex Sharks lead the Vitality Blast South Group and today (Monday) face the challenge of playing Glamorgan in Cardiff.

Their bowling, in particular, has a new look following the loss of Tymal Mills, through injury, and Rashid Khan, who has returned to Afghanistan. Sussex are hoping that Western Australia left-arm seamer Jason Behrendorff, who made his Sussex debut against the Essex Eagles on Thursday evening, can help plug the gap.

Behrendorff went wicket-less on debut, but Gillespie says: “Dorf played an important role for Australia in the recent 50-over World Cup as well as having performed well in T20 internationals and with Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash.

“He’s got a fine record, swings the new ball in the powerplay and can bowl at the death as well if required. We’re very excited to welcome him to the Sussex family and we’re sure he’ll have a big impact.”

Behrendorff, who will be available for the quarter-finals should the Sharks qualify, says himself: “It’s been a great tournament so far for Sussex, sitting on top of the southern pool. It’s always nice to come into a winning team.

“For me it’s about playing my part for the team. I’d like to think that will be putting in consistent performances up front with the new ball, taking some wickets and getting the boys off to a good start in games.

“I’ve worked a little bit with Dizzy before from work he’s done with the Australia A side and obviously I’ve spent a lot of time with Kez [Alex Carey] over the past six months.”

But Sussex are also looking beyond the Blast. After a generally disappointing championship campaign a magnificent victory over Middlesex at Hove, in which Ollie Robinson took 14 wickets – the best bowling performance for the club for 55 years – has given them an outside chance of promotion.

Gillespie said: “I can’t speak highly enough of Ollie Robinson, 14 wickets in the match, eight for 32 on day one. That’s where we drove the game forward in our favour. Ollie was just amazing. He led the attack.

“It looked a different game when Ollie was bowling. He was incredible. I think being away with the England Lions has made him realise that he’s a little bit closer to it [England recognition] than he thought he was. And seeing how that professional environment works helps.

“He’s as competitive a cricketer as I’ve seen. He researches the opposition. He spends hours pouring over the footage, looking for ways to impact. He has also improved his general professionalism, the work-rate, in the gym, the recovery protocols.

“And the Lions experience has made him realise that he has to continue with this professionalism. The amount of overs be bowled in the Middlesex game was phenomenal. He’s stepped up and now he’s getting the rewards.

“I see a big tall bloke of 6’ 5” who runs in and hits the ball hard, nibbles it both ways, can swing it both ways at a brisk pace. His height is a real weapon. He’s the form bowler in the competition. He wouldn’t be out of place at the next level.

“We haven’t done ourselves any favours in the championship this year, to be perfectly blunt. We’ve had some stinking batting collapses.

"We haven’t been good enough. But we’re working hard. We’ve got to win all our games and see what happens.”