Sussex star Evans happy to face the red ball for a change

Laurie Evans at the crease in the recent championship draw v Gloucestershire at Arundel / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Laurie Evans at the crease in the recent championship draw v Gloucestershire at Arundel / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Laurie Evans has made his reputation at Sussex as a white-ball specialist.

His seven half-centuries were key to the county’s march to the final of the Vitality Blast last year.

The 31-year-old had plenty of time to hone his short-format skills in 2018. He didn’t play a County Championship match until the final week of the season. The previous year he had only made four four-day appearances.

But with Luke Wright stepping away from four-day cricket at the start of the season, Tom Haines out of form and Phil Salt sidelined by a hand injury there was a vacancy in Sussex’s top six as their promotion push began to gather momentum.

When he played against Glamorgan earlier this month it was only his sixth Championship game for Sussex, whom he joined in 2017.

The returns until last week had been modest: four against Glamorgan, 31 in the win over Middlesex at Lord’s and 24 last week against Gloucestershire.

But when his team needed him most Evans stepped up and he admits that the 113 he made in the drawn game against Worcestershire mean as much to him than a stack of white-ball runs.

“My first-class career leaves so much for debate,” admitted the former Surrey and Warwickshire man. “I don’t really know what happened to it, but it was great to get out there this week and score a hundred. The red ball game is lot tougher than the white-ball game and a lot more mentally challenging. It tests your technique and everything, but it also probably the most rewarding.”

Evans came to the crease at Kidderminster with Sussex in trouble. At 30 for 3 they were still 98 runs behind and it soon became 34 for 4. But along with skipper Ben Brown, Sussex’s man for a crisis, they turned things around. A stand of 157 got their side back on track and with debutant Aaron Thomason scoring 90 on debut on the final day Sussex earned a valuable draw against one of their promotion rivals.

His 113 is his highest score since he took a double hundred off the Sussex attack on an Edgbaston featherbed in 2015. “I’m a white ball cricketer plying my trade around the world, but the most valuable runs are always first class runs and down the years that is what you are judged on,” he added.

“I’m overjoyed that the hard work I put in has paid off and I’m looking to build on this in the next few weeks.”

Evans will be pulling on the Sharks’ blue again in a few weeks when the Blast kicks off, but there are three Championship games to come for Sussex to cement their position in the top three including back-to-back home games against Durham - starting today (Mon 24) - and Northamptonshire.