By Ryan Newman
After signing his first professional contract with Sussex back in October, Abidine Sakande hopes that this is the year he really stamps his mark on the first team.
The 22 year-old seamer has been at the County since the age of 12 and is determined to start fulfilling his undoubted potential.
Speaking at Sussex’ press and media day on Wednesday, he said: “When I set out my goals for the 2017 season my sole plan was to play as often as I can for the first team.
“I need to make sure I nail the opportunities that I get so that if I get picked they can’t drop me. I want to make sure that by the end of the season I have made myself an established first team regular.”
The young starlet is realistic about his chances this coming season and knows that he won’t be playing every game straight away and as such, doesn’t want to set himself unrealistic targets:
“Obviously if I have a good season I will pick up wickets. They go hand in hand with each other but I haven’t set out any specific targets in terms of numbers of wickets or anything like that. If I perform well and I take wickets then I am going to be happy so.
“I think maybe it would be a little bit artificial to set out specific targets when I am not used to the standard yet. I think once I have played more often, I will have a better idea of what is a good number of wickets to aim for.”
“I think my best chance of starting games is potentially the one day games. Assuming I stay fit I should be able to get a chance to play some of those games and hopefully some of the red ball if I perform well.
“There are a fair few fast bowlers in the squad but I definitely think that there are opportunities. People always pick up injuries and things like that so as long as I keep myself fit and keep knocking on the door eventually it will open.”
Sakande is absolutely delighted to have a two year deal at a County that is clearly not afraid to give youth a chance:
“The fact I was able to sign a two year deal is a massive factor for me. It means that I don’t have all the pressure on this season straight away. Also, it means that they are investing in my future.
“It means that over time, they think that I will develop into the kind of player that will perform well for Sussex on a regular basis. It gives you confidence to be a part of a squad with a lot of youngsters in it and to have a head coach that you know will back those young players and say actually, you know what, despite your age, we actually think you are good enough to go out there and perform well for the team.
“They are not just going to beat you over the head if you maybe don’t do well straight away because as a young player sometimes there is a bit of a learning curve so I think it is a really good environment to be in and also great competition between you and the rest of the guys.
“We are all a similar age with similar talent levels so it is just as case of working hard and competing but also they are your mates so you want them to do well as well so it’s great.”
Sakande will be hoping to get an immediate chance to impress when Sussex host Kent in County Championship starting on Good Friday.