Sussex head coach Mark Davis believes he has a team in place off the field which can drive the county to success on it this season.
Jon Lewis has been assistant coach, concentrating on the development of their seam bowlers, for the last two years and has worked hard with George Garton, Jofra Archer and Stuart Whittingham, who all got first-team exposure last season and proved worthy of their place.
Murray Goodwin did a short stint at the start of 2016 as batting coach, but now the role has been filled on a full-time basis by one of Goodwin’s former team-mates Mike Yardy.
Since retiring in 2015, Yardy has been working towards a sports psychology degree. Last year he coached pupils at Hurstpierpoint College, including teenager Tom Haines, who became Sussex’s youngest first-class debutant for 46 years when he played against Kent last September, and the county’s under-17 team.
Yardy impressed Davis and director of cricket Keith Greenfield to be appointed to the role earlier this year and has been working with both youngsters like Delray Rawlins and the more experienced players since before Sussex reported back last week to start preparations for the new season.
Between them, Yardy and Lewis boast a wealth of knowledge. Both played for England and had stellar domestic careers as well and Davis believes they are “a good fit” for Sussex.
“I think I’ve got a great coaching group now and I am so excited about the potential guys like Jon Lewis and Mike Yardy have,” said Davis. “They have both been great acquisitions, as has Jason Swift in his role with the second team. They are a good fit for us and I believe we are getting it right off the pitch and that will reflect positively on performances on it.”
Lewis expanded his coaching horizons in the winter working with the England under-19s, including nurturing the highly-regarded Rawlins.
Sussex are due to begin their pre-season friendlies against Surrey in a three-day match at Hove today (Thursday), the start having been delayed 24 hours because of Wednesday’s rain.
None of their overseas or Kolpak contingent are available and neither are Tymal Mills and Chris Jordan, who are preparing to join their respective IPL franchises. Matt Machan (wrist) and Luke Wells (knee) are recovering from winter surgery but Davis hopes they can play some part in Sussex’s other warm-up fixtures against Somerset, Hampshire and Cardiff MCCU prior to their Specsavers County Championship opener on April 14 against Kent.
The Surrey game had originally been scheduled to begin today at Hove but due to poor weather, the game will now begin on Thursday and be a three-day match running through to Saturday.
All of the 16 players, which includes Rawlins and their other winter acquisitions Laurie Evans and Abi Sakande, will play some part over the next three days with the format of the game flexible.