Sussex sign New Zealand batsman for entirety of Vitality Blast

Tom Bruce has played 14 times for New Zealand in T20Is
Tom Bruce has played 14 times for New Zealand in T20Is

Sussex Cricket have signed New Zealand international batsman Tom Bruce for the duration of Sussex Sharks’ 2018 Vitality Blast campaign.

The 26-year-old will be available for all 14 of the team’s matches in the South Group, as well as the knock-out stages should the Sharks progress.

Supporters will have their first chance to see Bruce in a Sussex shirt this Friday 8th June, however, when he forms part of the men’s side that takes on the 2018 Aboriginal XI at The 1st Central County Ground, Hove.

That match gets underway at 3pm and follows on from the corresponding women’s fixture at 11am. Entry to the ground is free to all and no ticket is required.

Tom has played 14 T20 internationals for the Black Caps since making his debut against Bangladesh at Napier in January 2017. His top score to date of 59 not out off 39 balls came in the same series.

His most recent international appearance came during the tri-series between New Zealand, Australia and England in year.

Sussex coach Jason Gillespie

Sussex coach Jason Gillespie

The right-hander burst onto the New Zealand domestic T20 scene in the 2015/16 season with a 51-ball 82 not out on his Central Districts debut in the Super Smash.

He finished that year’s competition as his side’s second leading run-scorer behind only Sri Lankan superstar – and former Sussex Shark – Mahela Jayawardene.

Tom repeated that feat in 2016/17 scoring 283 runs at an average of nearly 50 and with a stratospheric strike rate of 171.5.

In his 41 career T20s so far, he has scored 958 runs at an average of 28.17. His career strike rate of 150.39 puts him in 26th place on the all-time list.

Commenting on his latest signing, Sussex Sharks head coach Jason Gillespie said: “The injury to Stiaan van Zyl forced us to reassess our squad for the Vitality Blast and we’ve decided that we need to bring in a quality overseas batsman for the duration of the tournament.

“Tom has experience on the biggest stage with New Zealand and is exactly the type of dynamic middle order stroke maker we’re looking for.

“To have him available for the entirety of the competition will offer us continuity, which is very important in tournament cricket.

“We can’t wait to welcome Tom in to the dressing room, where I’m sure he’s going to fit in really well.

“He’ll be looking forward to showing everyone how good a player he is and I know Sussex supporters are going to really enjoy watching him play.”

Bruce himself added: “I’m very excited to have signed with Sussex Sharks for the entire Vitality Blast. It’s a great opportunity at a great county and I’m excited to meet the team staff and prepare for the upcoming campaign.”

Sussex Sharks begin their Vitality Blast campaign on Wednesday 4th July against Essex Eagles at Chelmsford.

Their first home fixture follows on Friday 13th July against Surrey at The 1st Central County Ground.

Tickets for that match and the other six group games at Hove are on sale now. The Blast Pass season ticket is also available, offering entry to all seven games for one unbeatable price.

Sussex batsman Evans relishing test against the best

Rangers close in on signing Albion defender Goldson for £3.5million