Rashid Khan‘s whirlwind career will blow him into Hove for the T20 Blast. Rashid, the Afghan legspinner who has become one of the hottest properties in T20 cricket and lifted the stature of Afghanistan cricket in the process, will play for Sussex for the first half of the tournament.
Rashid will join Sussex with confidence because he teams up again with Jason Gillespie, the county’s new head coach, who was in charge of Adelaide Strikers when they won this season’s Big Bash.
Rashid was one of the Strikers’ chief assets, finishing joint top of the wicket-taking charts with 18 wickets in 11 innings at a startling economy rate of 5.65 runs per over – the most meagre in the tournament. He missed the final because of international duties, but Adelaide survived without him, comfortably beating Hobart Hurricanes.
A stint in the IPL will dominate his thinking before he arrives on the south coast of England. At the recent IPL auction, Sunrisers Hyderabad paid US$1.4m for his services, leading him to be dubbed by some as “the million dollar baby”.
At 19, his brief career has also taken him to the Caribbean Premier League and Bangladesh Premier League as the advance of T20 – not the discussions of international administrators in sparking-water filled committee rooms – promises to become the main driver for global opportunity.
Gillespie needed a lift after losing both Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan to the IPL, so deflating Sussex’s promotion challenge from Division Two of the Specsavers Championship before it has begun. But the prospect of Rashid and Archer, a key performer in Hobart’s BBL campaign, teaming up in T20 will give Sussex one of the most talked-about bowling attacks in the competition.
“We are delighted that Rash has agreed to join us at Sussex,” Gillespie said. “His form for Afghanistan and the T20 teams he has played for over the last couple of years has been phenomenal. I have worked closely with Rash at the Adelaide Strikers in the BBL and have been incredibly impressed with his attitude, work ethic and team-first mentality.
“We look forward to welcoming him to the Sharks where I’m sure he will quickly become a fan favourite.”
Amongst bowlers who have bowled at least 500 deliveries, Rashid has the lowest average (13.82) in the history of international T20 cricket. His economy rate of 5.86 runs per over is the second lowest of all time.
Sussex’s relatively small boundaries will offer up a new challenge, especially the tight boundaries square of the wicket
Sussex’s director of cricket, Keith Greenfield, expressed his delight at the signing. “Rashid is the most sought-after spin talent in the world,” he said. “He has made a significant impact in all the teams he has played for to date, so to make this move happen is fantastic.”