The news that Sussex had agreed to release Chris Nash a year early from his contract was probably one of the most surprising pieces of news on the County circuit and after the departure of Graham Onions from Durham to Lancashire, the second case of a County stalwart moving on after many years in the last two months. Rumours suggest it relates to his failure to get the captaincy when Luke Wright stepped down last year, but even so the loss of an experienced and capable player will leave a large hole (arguably improbably large) to fill. Furthermore given the strong suggestion that at 34 he’ll join another county, he could be an excellent signing for an ambitious team next year.
On a personal note, Nash has always been a player I’ve had a soft spot for across all formats. Technically adept, aggressive and capable of scoring consistent and quick runs he’s been regarded as one of the better players in County Cricket for a few years and that’s borne out in the numbers.
Indeed no-one in all formats has scored more runs than Nash since 2010 and he ranks 3rd for runs scored in T20 cricket, 5th in F/C cricket and 16th in List A cricket which is a noticeable achievement for a player who largely operates under the radar.
Given the quality of the respective company at the top of the lists, particularly in T20 cricket (given his companions at the top of the list all boast England caps), it’s a surprise his name hasn’t been mentioned as an England option before.
But that’s been a positive for Sussex and his record over the last few years for them is remarkably consistent, with relatively few fallow years with the bat and a consistently high strike rate particularly in f/c and T20 cricket.
All of which underlines just how hard a time Sussex will have replacing him. Indeed, comparing their team over the last two seasons and Nash tops the rankings for total runs scored across all formats which only demonstrates how big a hole this will leave for them to deal with.
When you consider the loss of Ed Joyce to Ireland duty, the retirement of Matt Machan and the release of Craig Cachopa last year, the batting ranks of Sussex have been thinned considerably already with only Stiann Van Zyl stepping up to cover all of which has already increased the pressure on Luke Wright and Luke Wells to provide big runs to cover for the growing gaps.
The question then is how can they cover for Nash’s departure and in short, it’s challenging within existing ranks to see credibly how they can do so bar relying on stellar seasons from Wells, Wright and Van Zyl. The likes of Finch and Burgess may improve while Laurie Evans and Angus Robson have decent pedigree in limited overs and first class cricket respectively. Otherwise Delray Rawlins has a great reputation but is unproven at county level while Archer and Jordan could both kick on further as all-rounders with the bat but beyond that options are short unless a signing is made and even then it would probably have to be from overseas as players of Nash’s pedigree are in short supply domestically. His are big shoes to fill.
As for Nash you can’t imagine he’ll be short for suitors. Somewhere like Kent, a good young team probably needing some experience to supplement it, would be a good fit but given his record you’d imagine most Division 1 sides would probably be taking a long look and you’d be hard pressed to bet against him thriving. Sussex’s loss could well be someone else’s gain.