Abi Sakande, the latest young fast bowler emerging at Sussex, hopes his performance in this week’s Championship game against Gloucestershire are enough to earn him an extended run in the team.
The 22-year-old became the first Sussex bowler to take a wicket with the pink ball during Gloucestershire’s first innings and after two declarations had set up a final-day run chase Sakande took 2 for 53, including highly-rated opener Australian opener Cameron Bancroft. But as the pink ball softened Sussex were only able to take six second-innings wickets and were denied a third successive win.
Sakande owed his selection to two things: an eye-catching five-wicket haul in Sussex’s win over South Africa A on a slow Arundel wicket a fortnight ago and the non-availability of George Garton, who is on England Lions duty this week, and Steve Magoffin, who is recovering from injury.
But he still got the nod ahead of Stuart Whittingham although it’s another of Sussex’s exciting prospects, Jofra Archer, whom Sakande hopes to emulate.
It was a year ago that Archer announced himself with a stellar five-wicket performance against Pakistan and since then he has gone from strength to strength.
“It got to the stage where they could not pick Jofra in the second half of last season because he was bowling so consistently,” said Sakande, who played first-class cricket whilst studying at Cambridge University before making his Championship bow this week.
“All season, in the second team and then when I took those five wickets at Arundel, I have been working hard to get to the front of the queue. There are some really good young bowlers at the club so when the opportunity comes you need to take it. I feel I have been bowling with a good rhythm, and attacking the crease.”
There is more than a hint of Archer’s languid style in Sakande’s approach to the crease and it, should he keep his place, it will be fascinating to see if he can reproduce it again at Arundel next week when Sussex take on Leicestershire.
At the start of June Head Coach Mark Davis targeted three wins from four before the start of the NatWest T20 Blast and Sussex remain on course despite the frustration of not being able to force a victory over Gloucestershire.
Davis said: “We lost a lot of time to rain but we made a game of it and we could have won it, needing four wickets at the end. So, it’s been frustrating but we have the chance next week at Arundel to get another victory and go into the break for T20 in a good position with a lot of Championship cricket still to play.”