Ed Joyce: Sussex captain raring to go for another title challenge

Ed Joyce
Joyce was appointed Sussex captain midway through the 2012 campaign

Sussex captain Ed Joyce is feeling no ill-effects from the Cricket World Cup, despite cricket manager Mark Robinson expressing concerns about his workload.

The 36-year-old left-hander, Sussex's top run-scorer in 2014, played in all of Ireland's pool matches.

"My fitness is very good," the 36-year-old told BBC Sussex.

"The weariness of having being involved in a such a big tournament has hit in the last few weeks but I feel ready and raring to go."

Analysis - Former Sussex batsman Rory Hamilton-Brown
"Players of Ed Joyce and Steven Magoffin's ilk certainly deserve to win a championship. Joycey is the best batsman I have played with. In the last two years at Sussex he was on a different planet to anyone else.
"It will be exciting to see how Sussex get on this year. It looks a powerful batting line-up, with some fantastic players to watch and some stroke players. There are some high-quality seamers with Magoffin leading the attack.
"With the form Luke Wright has been in - and to have him for a whole season - you'd hope they'll get enough runs. As long as they get 20 wickets they will be there or thereabouts."

Joyce was the Hove-based club's stand-out performer with the bat last season, scoring 1,398 runs runs in the County Championship at an average of 66.57, hitting seven centuries.

He continued that form at the World Cup, hitting 84 and 112 in Ireland's victories over the West Indies and Zimbabwe respectively and Joyce believes he can take his form into the new domestic season, which Sussex start at Hampshire on Sunday.

"I feel I am playing well but that doesn't guarantee runs," he said.

"Last year was about as well as I can play, being perfectly honest. I would snap your hand off if someone would say I could have the same season."

Ed Joyce
Joyce scored a crucial century for Ireland as they beat Zimbabwe by five runs at the World Cup

Sussex have finished third in Division One in the last two seasons and Joyce believes they can mount another challenge for the title, having added fast bowlers Ajmal Shahzad and Tymal Mills to their squad over the winter.

"To come third in the last two seasons, you have to play reasonably well consistently throughout the season," he said.

"We have had a couple of bad games here and there, which was maybe due to a lack of depth.

"Once we get the guys who are injured back in mid-May, or early June, we should have a nice stable of bowlers.

"If we can play as a unit, which we should do with our top seven, we should get enough runs for the bowlers to bowl at."

Joyce says Shahzad and Mills, signed from Nottinghamshire and Essex respectively, have "brought pace and a bit of edge" to Hove.

BBC Sussex's Adrian Harms:
"Sussex have strengthened their squad and look capable of mounting a sustained challenge for their first title since 2007."Winter signings Mills and Shahzad will provide support for the evergreen Magoffin in the seam bowling department but spin is a concern."Others must share the batting load that was so often carried single-handed by Ed Joyce last summer."
Read the BBC's club-by-club guide ahead of the start of the County Championship season.

"Ajmal is a very extroverted guy and has added spice on and off the pitch.

"He is a hugely skilful bowler and, by his own admission, has probably under-performed in the last two or three years. We just want to let him do his thing, attack and take wickets.

"Tymal is someone who maybe has got a lot more confidence with the white ball in his hand at the moment. We are tying to let him find his way in red-ball cricket.

"We need him to scare people and get them out.

"As long as he plays the games, is allowed to express himself and have the odd bad spell and bad day, I think he will find his way."

BBC Sussex are hosting a Sussex cricket special on Friday, 10 April at 18:00 BST. You can listen on FM frequencies, DAB or via the BBC iPlayer.

Ajmal Shahzad and Tymal Mills
Fast bowling duo Shahzad (left) and Mills are Sussex's only permanent signings over the winter

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