Luke Wells knows his primary role in the Sussex side is to score runs.
So, his first century of the season against Leicestershire on Monday pleased the 27-year-old, who has faced more balls (2311) than any other Championship batsman since the start of last season, which he finished by averaging 65. But Wells is keen to make a contribution with the ball too so four wickets at Grace Road gave him almost as much satisfaction.
He was making pleasing progress with his leg spin until knee surgery and subsequent rehabilitation meant he was unable to bowl in 2017. Now, as well as offering a more-than-handy option for skipper Ben Brown in Championship cricket, he is eyeing up a role in white-ball formats too.
It’s a source of frustration that he has only played 23 white-ball games since making his List A debut in 2010 and believes he can play his part when the Royal London One-Day Cup starts next month.
“In terms of white-ball cricket let’s hope it’s a fresh start for me,” he said. “I feel I have a lot to offer and I guess someone’s got to take on Chris Nash’s role in one-day cricket so why shouldn’t that be me? He bowled a lot of overs and was very effective.
"I’ve never had a consistent run and when I did play I didn’t do enough. But I know my game is good enough now and that I have the skills that can make a difference, with the bat and the leg spin. I feel so much more confident and with a fresh pair of eyes in terms of the new Head Coach (Jason Gillespie) hopefully I will get the opportunity.”
Before Sussex turn their attention to 50-over cricket they have two opportunities at Hove to claim their first Championship win after encouraging performances against Warwickshire and Leicestershire. They entertain Gloucestershire from Friday and while changes to the side which drew at Grace Road will be minimal, captain Brown knows that his batting unit – led by Wells – is in good shape.
Wells became the third Sussex player to score a hundred this season following Michael Burgess and David Wiese. Burgess made his from No.7 and Wiese No.9 so while some of Wells’ top-order colleagues might not have got up and running yet Sussex have got admirable depth.
Brown said: “We have a lot of guys in form and its keeping everyone on their toes. Luke Wright has also got runs while Tom Haines made a hundred against a strong Essex attack in the seconds last week. As a captain you want players knocking on the door asking why they are not playing or indeed batting higher up the order.”
Brown is full of admiration for Wells, who went 50 balls and 70 minutes against Leicestershire without scoring at one stage. “He’s a tough cricketer, he doesn’t give it away and has the sort of temperament that youngsters at the club should be learning from,” added Brown. “And with his leg-spin developing as well, Luke is becoming a key member of our side – and long may it continue.
“We’re in a good place squad-wise at the moment. We haven’t had a huge amount of luck in our first two games if I’m honest but when that happens I think teams will find it hard to live with us.”