Skipper Ben Brown hopes it is a case of when rather than if Sussex team-mate Phil Salt breaks into the England team.
Salt, 22, was called into the squad for the Twenty20 international against Pakistan on Sunday although he did not make the final XI.
Brown admits Salt’s call-up came as a surprise. He has not played for any of England’s age group teams or the Lions, but his explosive style has caught the selectors’ eye. In 35 Twenty20 games he has a strike rate of 151.50.
“I hope it’s a case of when rather than if Phil gets his chance,” said Brown. “I guess his call-up was a surprise but I like to think it is recognition that Sussex have been winning more games of T20 and 50-over cricket these days. To see a player picked on raw talent is massively exciting for the club.
“His rate of improvement, particularly in the last 12 months, has been massive. He’s a fearless character which is very important in professional sport and he can really kick on.
“I was delighted for him and it’s amazing for everyone at the club. I was slightly surprised he didn’t play but hopefully he’s learnt a lot from being around the England environment.”
Salt was back with his county on Tuesday and made a typically pugnacious 25 off 21 balls in front of the Sky TV cameras including four boundaries, although he was also dropped on nought. Brown says people must learn to accept that players with Salt’s precocious talent are going to have good and bad days and that he must not change his ways.
“At Sussex we have let him grow and learn at his own rate. He might have a crazy dismissal one day then win you a game on his own the next, so as captains and coaches we have to let him play his own game,” said Brown. “He is a young player who is still learning his trade, but he can hit the best balls off top bowlers and he strikes the ball really well.”
Brown believes the culture created by head coach Jason Gillespie has helped Salt develop over the past 18 months. “Salty is a modern-day player and needs modern coaching and Dizzy (Gillespie) is definitely of that ilk,” he said. “He’s an exciting talent and I hope what happened to him in terms of being on England’s radar is inspiring for all the young players here at Sussex.”
The Sharks failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup after losing their last three South Group games. The absence of Ollie Robinson, Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan was a factor, but Brown insists Sussex have made progress in the 50-overs format.
“We’ve had some brilliant days, but when you have a young side there are days when that experience shows,” he said. “We’ve played some exciting cricket at times and we look far more organised in what is such a competitive group.”
Sussex are not in action again until they resume their Specsavers County Championship campaign at Northampton on May 20.