With the T20 Blast set to kick off this week, many County sides are beginning to welcome the overseas stars that they hope will prove the difference between a group stages knockout and a trip to the showpiece Finals Day and one of the most high-profile overseas signings is Sussex Sharks Rashid Khan.
Rashid Khan was ranked 2017’s leading T20 cricketer by the highly respected Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack and, at just 19 years of age, the legspinner achieved millionaire status in this year’s IPL after being bought by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for INR 9 crores (US$1.4 million) and it is easy to see why.
The Afghan superstar has 57 wickets in 33 matches for his country at an average of 13.01 and has starred for T20 franchises around the world. In the 2018 IPL, Khan took 21 wickets in 17 games at an average of 21.80 and was a major part of the Sunrisers run to the final. In the 2017/18 Australian Big Bash, he took 18 wickets in 11 games at an average of 13.80 for the Adelaide Strikers, helping them to their first BBL title.
Sussex Sharks hope Rashid Khan can be a difference maker
While at the Strikers, Khan worked under head coach Jason Gillespie who is now the Sussex head coach and it is because of that link that Sussex Sharks have snared one of the most in demand T20 performers in world cricket.
Having spoken to multiple different Sussex Sharks cricketers over the past few weeks, it is clear that they are very excited for his arrival. 20-year-old Bermudan born all-rounder Delray Rawlins who is a spinner himself does not expect to make many on-field appearances in this campaign but cannot wait to work with and learn from one of the best spinners around.
“I am most definitely looking forward to Rashid Khan’s arrival,” Rawlins said. “I will definitely be having a watch when he is bowling or trying to get down the other end and face him as well. I’m looking forward to it because he brings a lot of excitement to any side that he is in so hopefully he can do well for us and push us towards some silverware.”
Former South African all-rounder David Wiese echoes Rawlins’ statement that Khan could be the difference maker in a successful Sussex T20 campaign. “Having Rashid Khan coming in for the Blast is great. Everyone is excited to see what he is going to do for us. Last season, I felt that we didn’t really play the key moments well and I think [with players like Rashid coming in] we will be better at that this season. Hopefully we will be a bit more ruthless and then we definitely have got a chance of making Finals Day.”
Scotland seamer Stuart Whittingham said he believes Khan is “one of the best T20 bowlers in the world” and is excited to see him bowl alongside the likes of Jofra Archer, Tymal Mills and England’s Chris Jordan, something fellow Sussex seamer George Garton agrees with.
“We have probably one of the strongest teams on paper [in the T20 Blast], especially in our bowling. We have made a brilliant signing in Rashid Khan and I am really excited to see him come over and showcase his skills.”
Opener Phil Salt too is happy to have the young spinner as part of the Sussex line-up. “I was over in Adelaide in the winter and I watched him quite a few times. He looks like a serious bowler and myself and the rest of the boys are just thankful he is one of our team and not against us!”
It is clear that Rashid Khan has built up an enviable reputation for himself in T20 leagues across the world and Sussex clearly cannot wait to get started with him in their side. He is only available for the first eight games of the tournament but that is certainly more than enough time for Khan to make a big impact on Sussex’s campaign and, should they make it all the way to Finals Day, I am sure they will move heaven and earth to ensure he can come back and be a part of their side.