Bruce on the Boundary – Pre-season preparations prompt feel-good factor at Hove

Sussex captain Ben Brown is experienced enough to know that pre-season performances will mean little when the action starts for real.

But if their preparations for the new season are any sort of guide, Brown’s men could be in for a good summer.

Unbeaten in four games in South Africa on their pre-season tour, they also had the better of things against a strong Hampshire side in a two-day red-ball game at Hove earlier this week with Harry Finch scoring an unbeaten hundred and the bowlers taking 17 wickets.

Brown said: “You can never guarantee results but we have certainly given ourselves a chance physically.

Council repairs

“Everyone has looked great both in terms of their own fitness but on the pitch with things like ball striking, fielding and catching. I think that has been the biggest positive of pre-season so far.

“Fitness test results were excellent too. So hopefully that should help us become a more dynamic team in what is always a long and tiring season.”

It’s a theme taken up by Finch who is raring to go after spending the winter at home recovering from ankle surgery at the end of 2018.

He said: “That’s the way we want to go about things. The intensity we have shown in pre-season and the attitude has been brilliant. It’s the culture (head coach) Jason Gillespie wants here. And when you play with good intensity I think you enjoy your cricket.

“The signs are really good – and we can’t wait to get the season proper under way.

“It was good to get some time in the middle against Hampshire and to score a hundred against a decent attack. I got a hundred in pre-season last year so hopefully that’s a good omen.”

There is undoubtedly a feel-good factor at Hove ahead of the Championship opener against Leicestershire on Friday 5 April.

And there was more good news when the club announced this morning (Thursday 28 March) that England all-rounder Chris Jordan had extended his contract.

Jordan, who is about to start his seventh season with Sussex, has joined Luke Wells, Laurie Evans, David Wiese, Phil Salt, Will Beer and Finch in signing new contracts since the end of last season.

He said: “Everyone’s in a brilliant place. From all reports, it was a very successful pre-season tour to Cape Town. Everyone got what they needed to get out of it.

“The boys have been working very hard over the winter fitness-wise as well. A lot of work has gone on behind closed doors.”

Sussex start another two-day friendly against Kent today, having beaten them twice in 50-over games in South Africa.

They then round off preparations for the new season with a first-class friendly against Cardiff MCCU, also at Hove, on Sunday (31 March).

Wiese, who joined up with the squad earlier this week, is likely to get his first competitive run-out of the season.

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