Indian pace bowling spearhead Ishant Sharma will join Sussex for the first two months of the 2018 county season, subject to BCCI approval, the club confirmed on Thursday.
Having gone unsold at the Indian Premier League auction that happened in January, Ishant will make his first appearance at the county circuit during that period, as the club confirmed he will be with them for April 4 to June 4. He will be available for Sussex’s first five fixtures in the County Championship and all eight of Sussex Sharks’ Royal London One-Day Cup group matches, the club’s release confirmed.
This also precedes Indian cricket team’s full tour of England after the IPL.
Ishant becomes the third Indian cricketer to play for Sussex (after MAK Pataudi and Piyush Chawla) and will join Cheteshwar Pujara for the upcoming season with both players not finding takers in the IPL.
The 29-year-old pacer is the veteran among India’s current crop of fast bowlers, having made his international debut in 2007 and has since played 81 tests, 80 one-day internationals and 14 T20 internationals T20Is for India. He is the fourth most successful Indian fast bowler with his 234 dismissals putting him behind Kapil Dev, Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath.
His most recent test appearances came during India’s three-match series against South Africa last month, where he played in the second and third tests and took eight wickets.
Speaking after signing for Sussex, the tall right-armer said:
“It’s a great honour to represent Sussex CCC, the oldest first-class county, and I am looking forward with excitement to my maiden stint in county cricket.I would like to extend a special thanks to Sussex for taking note of my ongoing performances and deeming me suitable for this opportunity. I hope to add value during my time as part of the Sussex family this season.”
Sussex’s Director of Cricket, Keith Greenfield explained the rationale behind the signing: “Securing Ishant’s services has been very important for us.
“Once Jofra [Archer] and CJ [Chris Jordan] were picked up in the IPL draft, it became crucial to sign an experienced international-quality seam bowler who could provide valuable support and know-how to the rest of the seamers.
“Ishant has the attributes to be very successful in early season English conditions and a great role model. He fits the bill perfectly and we look forward to welcoming him to Sussex Cricket.”
Head Coach, Jason Gillespie added: “We’re delighted to secure the services of an experienced and very skilful international seamer. We believe Ishant will fit right into the Sussex dressing room and we are all really looking forward to welcoming him to Hove.”
Sharma’s stint with Sussex will be his first in county cricket, although he has experience of bowling in England having toured with India in 2011 and 2014 and played in the 2009 ICC World T20 and 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. He has fond memories of bowling in the whites in England as well, recording his Test best figures of 7-74 during the second innings of India’s famous win at Lord’s in 2014.