Sakande wants Sussex spot - so do plenty of others

Abi Sakande welcomes Sussex's competition for places / Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Abi Sakande welcomes Sussex's competition for places / Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Sussex bowler Abi Sakande says competition in the talented squad can only be a good thing for the players.

The former Ardingly College student, who signed a new two-year deal with Sussex last year, enters his second season with his side having made his debut against Kent in 2016.

Sakande has vowed to fight for his place in his second season and feels the competition for a starting place in the side is a healthy.

Sussex begin their county championship division-two promotion campaign away to Warwickshire a week today (on April 13) and Sakande said: “I think it’s a good thing and the competition is healthy for the boys because we know if we perform well we will be in the team next week so it gives you a good motivation to try to impress and really work hard all the way through because anything can change.,

“Especially last season there were times I thought I was so far away and then next week you are back in the team so it’s good motivation to have that competition between the boys.”

The 23-year-old made nine championship appearances last season and played in two one-day clashes, but Sakande is hoping to break into the team for a more regular spot as he enters his second full season at Hove.

He said: “Personally I’m looking to get into the team as early as possible to get my foot in the door and really make sure I can get as many games as I can. I’m in my second year now and I’m really starting to settle into that feeling of 'this is what I’m going to do' where in your first year everything is a bit new and getting used to the whole idea.

“I’m now starting to think this is what I’m going to be doing for my career. I’m good at it and I just want to impress people with my skills.

“When I first signed I was bit wide-eyed and overwhelmed but the environment we’re in is very accommodating.”

Sakande and the whole of the Sussex squad have been given a huge boost with the signing of new head coach Jason Gillespie as he returns to county cricket having previous success with Yorkshire.

The Aussie legend won promotion from division two of the county championship in his first season, while in the second the White Rose county were runners-up in the first division - later winning the title in 2014 and 2015. Gillespie returned to Australia after Yorkshire narrowly missed out on a third successive title in 2016.

Sakande, who has played in the Sussex League for Cuckfield, Lindfield and Billingshurst, said: “With the new head coach and new squad I’m 100 per cent looking forward to the season and I’m hoping we can start off to the season well and finish strong.

“He (Gillespie) is someone that I’ve only ever heard good things about which is great. It was probably the longest build-up to meeting someone I have ever experienced having heard he'd got the job before Christmas.

“Finally getting to meet him last week was great, he seems very laid back and very relaxed and clear with his ideas.”