Lord's the ultimate prize for Sussex
The lure of a Lord’s final remains as strong as ever for Mark Robinson as Sussex go in search of a third 40-over trophy in four years.
Sussex start their Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign at Derbyshire on Sunday week among the favourites to be crowned champions, a prediction based as much on their record in one-day cricket in recent years as the talent in their squad.
They won the NatWest Pro40 in 2008 and 2009 - when the competition was decided by a league format alone and no final - and narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals last year, the inaugural season of the CB40.
The CB40 remains the only domestic competition which offers the prospect of a showpiece final at Lord’s, a key motivating factor for professional cricket manager Robinson and his Sussex charges.
“It’s massive; it’s huge,” Robinson told ecb.co.uk. “When the 40-over games kick in that becomes a priority.
“As the dream can potentially become a reality, that’s the real incentive to get to Lord’s, because those days at Lord’s are special.
“We’ve won it twice in the last three years and we went close last year; we got pipped by Somerset in a really tough group.
“We’ve got a really tough group to get through, but we’ll be hoping to go one step further.”
Although James Kirtley and Robin Martin-Jenkins, both of whom retired last year, are the most notable departures from a well-balanced squad, Sussex can boast the addition of Amjad Khan and Lou Vincent and the return of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan as overseas player this summer.
To that roster they can add South Africa left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell in the second half of the season.
Robinson also stressed the importance of England all-rounders Michael Yardy and Luke Wright to the side, and is keen for them to return from personal problems and a knee injury respectively sooner rather than later.
“We’ve lost some key personnel,” Robinson admitted. “We’re hoping that maybe Yardy and maybe Wright will be back and it gives us that strength in depth - in the batting order and the bowling resources as well.
“They balance the side - you have got two batters in the top five and they can bowl their quota of overs as well.
“We know (we can win the CB40) if we are able to put out our best team, especially when you put Yardy and Wright in.”