Sussex all-rounder David Wiese admitted he had a point to prove after scoring the first hundred of the season in the Specsavers County Championship.
While bowlers dominated a damp opening round of matches around the country, the South African took advantage of better batting conditions at Edgbaston to belt a hundred off just 91 balls – his tenth first-class century - against Warwickshire.
It was the first hundred scored in a session by a Sussex player since Ed Joyce on the same ground in 2014 and the first before lunch since 2004, when Matt Prior peppered startled players on adjacent tennis courts at Horsham as he put the Nottinghamshire attack to the sword.
“I want to put down a proper marker at Sussex this season so to start with a hundred and also four wickets meant a lot. It was quite emotional for me when I got to the hundred,” said Wiese.
Wiese may have been a bit hard on himself when he admitted he under-performed last season, his first at Hove, but he is certainly capable of improvement. He scored 554 runs and took 42 wickets in all formats and was Sussex’s leading wicket-taker in the Royal London One Day-Cup, but the 32-year-old sets high standards and thought he fell short.
“Last season didn’t go to plan,” he said. “So, I wanted to set a benchmark for 2018 and hopefully what happened in the first game has done that. I didn’t arrive until late and if you haven’t really done pre-season with the other boys or had much interaction with our new coach (Jason Gillespie) you need to get out there and remind people that you’re still around and create the right impression.”
It certainly pleased Gillespie. “That knock was pretty special and you could see it meant a lot to him,” he said. “He didn’t play a lot during the South African summer so he was keen to hit the ground running when he got here and he’s worked hard. Let’s hope it’s the start of a big season for him.”
Wiese’s contribution wasn’t the only positive Sussex gleaned from their opening game and Gillespie believes they can take momentum when they head back to the midlands on Friday to take on Leicestershire in the Championship.
He added: “I was really impressed with the boys, we competed well against a strong Warwickshire side and we showed progress during the game itself.
“The intensity improved. We had top-draw energy and buzz in the field and with the bat we showed glimpses of what we can do. I think we’re in a good place and we have shown some early signs that we mean business in Division Two.”
Not that the Australian will be taking Leicestershire lightly. Under new coach Paul Nixon, Gillespie regards them as a dangerous opponent.
“They have got some fantastic players, as every side in Division Two has,” he said. “But we will have a bit of time off, take our lessons from the first game, do our prep and then get ready for what I am sure will be a tough challenge.”