Luke Wright believes the current Sussex squad can make their own history in one-day cricket.
The Sharks begin their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign with two home games in three days, starting against Kent Spitfires on Thursday before Hampshire are the visitors to Hove on Saturday.
The 33-year-old is the only survivor from the Sussex team that last reached a Lord’s final back in 2009 when they lost to Hampshire.
Sussex did win the T20 Cup and 40-overs competition that year but their one-day form has declined steadily since then and they have only reached the knockout stages in either of the limited overs competitions on one occasion in the last five years.
There were signs of recovery last year when Sussex won three games in the Royal London One-Day Cup and Wright believes they have a squad equipped to do well in the white-ball formats. The bookmakers share his optimism with Sussex as short as 10-1 to win the competition, even though the South Group looks formidably strong again.
“It was nice to be part of the success we had back then, and they were some of the highlights of my career,” said Wright.
“But if I’m honest I think a few of the lads have had enough about people talking about the glory days of the not so distant past. I think they want to create their own history and this season feels like a new start, not just in terms of the squad.
“Dizzy (Jason Gillespie) has come in as Head Coach with a lot of fresh ideas and everyone is really pushing themselves. We’ve spoken a lot about doing better in one-day cricket and I think we have the players to do it.”
While Afghanistan’s spinning sensation Rashid Khan is not arriving until the Vitality Blast, Sussex will have Indian seamer Ishant Sharma – who has taken his 170 List A wickets at an economy rate of less than six runs an over – for the whole of the group stage.
Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer will return from Indian Premier League commitments at the end of May while the likes of Danny Briggs, George Garton and David Wiese are all expected to play important roles. Gillespie has hinted that he may freshen up the squad that has played five back-to-back Championship games which could see an opportunity for Laurie Evans, whose 134 off 86 balls against Kent was the individual highlight of their 2017 campaign – and who received confirmation that he is on the radar of the England selectors with his inclusion in the North-South Series.
Then there’s Wright himself. Saturday’s game against Hampshire is likely to be his 200th in List A cricket and he is closing in on 4,500 career runs.
Wright turned down the opportunity to play in the Pakistan Super League earlier this year, after his final season with Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash was cut short by a knee injury. He believes the fact he was able to have a prolonged rest ahead of the new season will help him now that the season is in full swing.
“It was my first winter off, or part of the winter, for ten years and that was great because I just felt physically and mentally it was catching up on me,” he said.
“It almost felt like a fresh start now, what with Jason coming in as well as coach. I’ve made a few technical changes to my batting and I feel I’ve got my sparkle back. I still want to improve. Last year wasn’t a disaster for me with the bat but I know I’ve got a lot more in me in one-day cricket.”