Cricket: Sussex are so glad they waited for The Fizz

Luke Wright says it was not easy getting Mustafizur Rahman to Hove / Picture by Phil Westlake
Luke Wright says it was not easy getting Mustafizur Rahman to Hove / Picture by Phil Westlake
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Captain Luke Wright believes Sussex’s decision to wait for Mustafizur Rahman will pay off after one of the rising stars of world cricket made a spectacular, if belated, debut for the county.

The 20-year-old left-armer from Bangladesh finally made his debut in Thursday’s NatWest T20 Blast game against Essex and took four for 23 from his four overs, bowling one over in his first spell before returning to pick up his wickets in a three-over burst at the end of the innings.

Rahman will be with Sussex for the remainder of their Blast campaign and will also play in four Royal London One-Day Cup matches when the county resume their campaign against Hampshire at Hove next Wednesday.

He only arrived on Wednesday afternoon, his arrival having been delayed by visa issues, and Sussex have arranged for an interpreter during his stay.

“We got criticised for hanging on but that’s why we waited,” said Wright. “He’s a special talent and we have to enjoy him while we have him.

“He’s an unbelievably skilful bowler. To have him bowling him those death overs as well as he did, the day after he came in, and hardly being able to speak any English was superb.”

He’s an unbelievably skilful bowler. To have him bowling him those death overs as well as he did, the day after he came in, and hardly being able to speak any English was superb.

Luke Wright

Wicketkeeper Craig Cachopa hadn’t even kept to Rahman in the nets but did an effective job. “Chops said afterwards that it looks like every ball is going to be a slower ball then it absolutely zips through,” said Wright. “I’m just glad I don’t have to face him to be honest. He can swing it both ways at pace and he’s got a really good slower ball too.”

It has been a collective effort to finally get Rahman at Hove. Chief Executive Zac Toumazi, Director of Cricket Keith Greenfield and even Cricket Co-ordinator Colin Bowley were all name-checked by Wright at Chelmsford on Thursday for their efforts, which often involved phone calls to Dhaka in the middle of the night.

The trick now, for Sussex, is to try to persuade Rahman and his employers to let him come again next year.

The dream scenario would be for him to link up with Sussex for the revamped 2017 edition of the Blast, which is scheduled to take place after the Champions Trophy. But a lot of cricket will be played before then and, as his star continues to rise, Rahman will be in demand all over the world.

“Next year is a long way off,” added Wright. “Don’t get me wrong, I’d sign him for the next ten years in T20 if I could but we have to be realistic.

“Bangladesh have got a seriously talented bowler who they are going to have to look after, and wrap in cotton wool. A lot of franchises will throw a lot of money at him and that’s a commodity we haven’t got a lot of but if he’s happy and loves it then it would be great to get him back.”

Short-term, Wright hopes Rahman can make the difference again in tonight’s Blast game at The Kia Oval against Surrey which, after their defeat to Middlesex last night, is effectively Surrey’s last chance of staying in contention for the quarter-finals.

“We have just got to play good enough cricket around him in these next six one-day matches to give him the chance to affect the outcome,” added Wright. “That’s the challenge for the rest of us.”

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