Ishant Sharma to represent Sussex for maiden county stint
What's the story?
Team India's Test pacer Ishant Sharma is set to be part of his maiden English county stint after signing a deal with Sussex. The lanky speedster will become the third Indian cricketer, after Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Piyush Chawla, to play for the county.
"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," Ishant was quoted as saying after bagging the deal.
In case you didn't know...
Ishant will join Cheteshwar Pujara as the second Indian to play county cricket in the upcoming season. The 29-year-old was not picked up by any franchise in the IPL auctions for the second time in a row (he was called in as a replacement last year to play for Kings XI Punjab).
The heart of the matter
Speaking about the deal with Ishant, Keith Greenfield, the director of cricket at Sussex said that Ishant's acquisition was crucial for the side as both Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer had been bagged by teams in the IPL draft. The dearth of a quality international player to beef up their bowling resources was solved by inking a deal with Ishant.
Jason Gillespie, the former Australian pacer and current head coach at the county, expressed his happiness with the inclusion of Ishant, describing him as a 'skilful' pacer and the 'right fit' for Sussex.
While most of his teammates will be plying their trade in the IPL, Ishant will be in England, playing the county season from April 4 to June 4.
While Ishant has been part of the international scene for over a decade now, he has had to prove his worth time and again, and has slowly been phased out of India's limited-overs plans as the years have gone by.
Not part of any IPL franchise this time around, a county stint will help Ishant hone his skills in English conditions, where he has previously done well, and help him prepare for the national side's tour of the country starting July.