Henry Shipley was hard to miss when he made his debut as Sussex County Cricket Club’s newest player last Sunday (4 June).
It wasn’t just his height. He’s 6ft 5 in tall. His battling 41 runs were equally noticeable. In at number 10, Shipley unfurled an array of powerful leg-side strokes. He helped his side recover from 253-8 to 338-9 at the close of play on day one against Worcestershire at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove.
The much-needed knock was invaluable and kept Sussex in with a sniff at victory. Yet, it’s Shipley’s abilities with the ball that have really gotten people talking.
After an impressive 2022-23 season for Canterbury, the right-arm seamer made his international debut in January of this year. In eight one-day internationals, Shipley has taken 15 wickets for New Zealand.
With a bowling average of only 23.93 in the format – global stars such as Shubman Gill, Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan have all fallen prey to the 27-year-old, who’s combination of pace and swing has proven deadly on the international stage.
Most eye-catching was his five-wicket haul against Sri Lanka last March.
Opening the bowling, Shipley unleashed a fiery spell – clean bowling the usually dependable Pathum Nissanka before Kusal Mendis fell attempting a hook shot. He then extracted the outside edges of both Charith Asalanka and Dasun Shanaka from consecutive balls.
Returning in the sixth over, the paceman completed the feat with another short-ball, Chamika Karunaratne only able to top-edge the well-directed bouncer to a grateful square leg fielder.
Shipley finished the game with five wickets for 31 runs – a dominant performance from an international standard white-ball bowler.
And yet, Sussex have acquired Shipley’s skills for four-day cricket.
Currently second in Division Two of the County Championship, Sussex began their campaign with promotion aspirations. Head coach Paul Farbrace was adamant that Sussex were no longer a side for the future but a competitive outfit, in it to win it and to escape the Second Division.
Yet, aside from a thrilling win in their opening fixture over Durham, things haven’t gone quite to plan at the 1st Central County Ground, with each of the next six fixtures ending in a draw.
Led by Indian maestro Cheteshwar Pujara, the solid batting line up has repeatedly steered Sussex into sturdy positions, only for the bowlers to let them down. They have dismissed the opposition in both innings just twice so far this season.
That’s where Henry Shipley comes in.
Farbrace said: “We’ve shown consistently that we can bowl teams out once. We just need that little bit more of a cutting edge. That’s why we’ve signed Henry to help us try to get 20 wickets in a game.”
In 22 first-class games for Canterbury, Shipley has taken an impressive 59 wickets at an average of only 27.59. He also has 793 runs at an average of 24.78.
“He’s 6ft 5in. He hits a length hard. He’s got good skills and he’s very keen to get stuck in and help us win games of cricket. He, along with McAndrew, will just give us that little bit of a cutting edge that we perhaps haven’t had.”
On a docile Hove wicket, Shipley took three wickets for 87 runs in his first bowling innings for Sussex. A decent showing against a quality Worcestershire batting line up.
Following the fixture, Shipley is available for the next three county championship matches – against Glamorgan, Derbyshire and Yorkshire.
Filling Pujara’s overseas spot, Shipley may miss the Glamorgan game as Pujara returns from the World Test Championship final. However, he is likely to feature against both Derbyshire and Yorkshire while the Sussex captain is away with India in the West Indies.
Sussex next play County Championship cricket on Sunday 25 June – away to Glamorgan.
Their next fixture is in the T20 blast – a local derby against Hampshire – is next Saturday (16 June) at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove.