After getting a cold shoulder from IPL franchises for the second year in a row, Ishant Sharma has decided to join English County for the first time in his career. The Indian Test specialist has signed up for County side Sussex.
With the IPL set to take place from April 7 to May 27 and no Test matches scheduled for India immediately after that, Ishant will be available for Sussex from April 4 to June 4, which allows him to take part in the first five County Championship matches and the group stages of the One-Day tournament.
There were rumours of Ishant being eager for a county stint last year too when the lanky fast bowler went unsold in the players’ auction of IPL 10, but the 29-year-old chose to stay back after being called-up as a last minute replacement of injured opener Murali Vijay.
This year though, Ishant has decided not to wait and has completed his long awaited journey to County.
“It's a great honour to represent Sussex CCC, the oldest first-class county, and I am looking forward with excitement to my maiden stint in county cricket,” said Ishant.
"We're delighted to secure the services of an experienced and very skilful international seamer. We believe Ishant will fit right into the Sussex dressing room and we are all really looking forward to welcoming him to Hove," said Sussex head coach Jason Gillespie.
Ishant is not the only one taking the County route after being snubbed by IPL. His teammate and India’s No. 3, Cheteshwar Pujara has also signed up for Yorkshire. Notably, Ishant is the third Indian to play for Sussex, after MAK Pataudi and Piyush Chawla.
Ishant’s County move bears special significance for India’s Test aspirations, as the No. 1 ranked side will travel to England for five-match Test series in August this year. India will hope, Ishant’s County stint will hold him in good shape for the Test series.