Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Move to Sussex Opens New Door as Forgotten Man Ward Launches Quest for Test Return

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Move to Sussex Opens New Door as Forgotten Man Ward Launches Quest for Test Return

Article excerpt

Byline: WAYNE VEYSEY

THE average follower could be forgiven for thinking Ian Ward is winding down his cricket career, writes Wayne Veysey.

He has a burgeoning job as a Sky Sports presenter, he has left England's biggest county club to join one of its cosiest, and, at 31, his chances of regaining a Test spot would seem slim.

But Sussex's new opening batsman is not quite ready to drift into the wilderness.

"My No1 goal is still to play for England," Ward said. "I loved every second of playing for my country. It was a fantastic experience.

I am lucky to have this opportunity to do something that will take me past my cricket career. But, first and foremost, I'm a cricketer. I want to score as many runs as I can to get back into the England fold. I'm a much better player now."

Ward struggled to make an impact in the five Tests he played in 2001 against Pakistan and Australia, scoring 129 runs at an average of 16.12.

His technique was forensically dissected by former players - "some of it was valid, most of it was garbage," recalled Ward - who was not alone in coming unstuck against Glenn McGrath.

"He posed a different problem to what I had faced before. I wasn't playing well enough to deal with it," Ward said. "I struggled to get proper practice between Tests. When I went back to Surrey they were more concerned with how the side was doing. I wasn't a special-needs case."

Ward's relationship with the county he served for 11 years over two spells came to an abrupt end last year.

The stocky lefthander started last season in great nick - scoring three centuries in Surrey's first four championship games - following a first class tally of 1609 runs at an average of 64.36 in 2002.

But as the runs dried up in midsummer, so did contact from The Oval hierarchy. "I was offered a contract the year before which wasn't ever finalised. There was more talk at the start of last season and then I didn't hear anything," Ward said.

"Then, in August, the chairman, Richard Thompson, told me they were cutting the budget and wouldn't be offering me a new contract. …

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