The T20 tournament – the Vitality Blast – starts on Saturday (20 May) although the Sussex Sharks are not in action until Friday next week (26 May) when Somerset come to Hove.
They face 14 games in 36 days – seven at home and seven away – with the last group fixture, a home match against Gloucestershire, scheduled for Saturday 1 July.
The ECB Reporters Network has run the rule over the Sharks’ prospects as they aim for a third finals day in six years.
In the 20 years since the tournament started, in 2003, Sussex have made five finals days appearances – in 2007, 2009, 2012, 2018 and 2021 – and won the title once in 2009.
But last season proved disappointing, with the Sharks floundering. They won just four games and finished seventh in the South Group.
Tom Alsop was the leading run scorer with 318 while Tymal Mills was the leading wicket taker, with 15.
Ravi Bopara captains a side that should include three overseas players – Nathan McAndrew (Australia), Shadab Khan (Pakistan) and Ari Karvelas (Greece).
Luke Wright’s retirement leaves a big hole in the top order but two of the Sharks’ overseas signings hold out some promise.
McAndrew had a good Big Bash with Sydney Thunder and brings new-ball experience and middle-order hitting potential while the experienced Shadab Khan could prove to be an ideal replacement for Rashid Khan.
Sussex have plenty of bowling options including the Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan. But can Sussex get enough runs on the board?
Tom Alsop, who missed the first four games last season, still finished as the Sharks’ leading scorer and has the temperament to anchor the innings and let others go for their shots.
Ali Orr could prove to be the wildcard. In Wright’s absence, Orr is likely to have an extended opportunity at the top of the order.
He has played only eight T20 games in his career but has all the shots in white-ball cricket as he proved when he scored Sussex’s first list A double hundred against Somerset last season.
A final thought – two appearances at Finals Day in four years vindicated Sussex’s decision to prioritise the Blast but 2022 was their worst performance for a decade with just four wins.
They will miss Wright and Rashid Khan, who could win matches on their own. Their hopes of making the knockouts may depend on the experienced Bopara, Mills and Steven Finn rolling back the years.
Finals Day is scheduled for Saturday 15 July at Edgbaston.