Michael Burgess is out to pin down a regular starting spot in the Sussex team this summer – and has made an excellent start in his bid to do so.
The 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman scored 48 in the county’s opening red-ball innings of 2018 in the draw with Warwickshire at Edgbaston, hitting nine fours in a fluent 45-ball knock.
It was a solid first step in Burgess’ aim of becoming a first-XI regular across all formats as Sussex had the better of a weather-affected draw. Burgess will be confident of keeping his place for the championship visit to Leicestershire starting on Friday (Apr 20).
Speaking before the start of the season, the former Leicestershire man said: “As a batter, there is a lot of competition for places this year, which is great because I think we’re going to push each other. That means we’re all going to get better as individuals so I obviously want to play every format and try to cement my place in the team.”
“I understand with competition comes pressure and you’ve got to perform to keep your spot, but hopefully if I can get it, I can take hold of it and help Sussex win games of cricket and that’s the main thing.”
Burgess is optimistic he can play in all formats for Sussex and was delighted to join up again with his county team-mates at Hove.
He added: “Being away for a while, it is really good to see everyone again, you miss everyone for four months and you get back. The club is a bit of a family, you get back and see everyone. These are your best mates and you spend every day with so it’s great to see everyone again and catch up.
“I think the club is in a really exciting place and as a predominantly young squad and we’ve got a new coach now. I think everyone is excited about Dizzy [Jason Gillespie] being here and it will be interesting to see where he takes us this summer.”
Burgess played for Adelaide University CC in the winter and the team reached the semi-finals in a two-day competition and the final of both white-ball tournaments.
He added: “It’s important to have a bit of a break but I think when you feel refreshed and re-energised it’s good to go away and work on your skills in a different environment.
“Obviously in Australia, it’s different bowlers, different pitches, different conditions, dealing with the heat, dealing with the pressure of being an overseas player at a club where things are expected of you.
“It is good to go into a different environment and meet new people. Training indoors is obviously good in the winter but you can’t replicate hitting balls on grass wickets, hitting balls outside and do that for four months of the year when you’d otherwise be in England. It helps you get ahead of the game compared to winter training and the experience is worth it.
“We trained a lot and played twice a weekend and played the T20s every midweek, so for four months you are really busy, you’re staying on top of your skills and can come back here and hit the ground running. I was lucky enough to play in a really strong team and we did really well.
“Pitches are flatter in Oz so as a batter, it is obviously nice. The ball moves but it was really good for me, I had ups and downs as any season comes. I feel like most or part, it was obviously nice to score some runs but I’ve definitely made a progression, and obviously hopefully I can bring that into this summer and see some results.”
MICHAEL HELLYER & STEVE BONE