No fewer than eight players will be missing when Sussex head to Dubai this week to step up their pre-season preparations in the Pro Arch tournament.
As well as England’s World Cup trio Matt Prior, Luke Wright and skipper Mike Yardy – who has returned early from the tournament to recover from an attack of depression – they are without Ed Joyce, who has only just arrived back home from Ireland’s World Cup adventure, Murray Goodwin, Rana Naved and winter recruits Lou Vincent and Kirk Wernars.
It will mean plenty of opportunity for Sussex’s less experienced players as they take on Durham over three days before a weekend of Twenty20 action at the end of the month.
Coach Mark Robinson said: “You could say that three-quarters of our likely first team is not going which means the players that are going will have to be adaptable.
“We haven’t gone yet to Abu Dhabi with a full-strength squad so it is nothing new but it will mean opportunities for everyone. We were back outdoors in the nets for the first time this week and playing games in Dubai is another step forward.”
Sussex will at least have two of their winter signings – former Kent and England bowler Amjad Khan and Pakistani left-armer Naveed Arif – with them in the desert.
Robinson added: “Amjad can’t wait to get involved, in fact he’s been a pain in the backside because he has been nagging me to go outside and bowl in the nets for days and asking about how much he will bowl in Dubai. It is music to my ears when I hear that from a senior player.”
Sussex return to the UK on April 2, six days before they start their County Championship campaign at Liverpool against Lancashire.