SUSSEX bowler George Garton believes the experience of being able to play alongside some of the world’s best cricketers has made him a better player.

The left-arm fast bowler has enjoyed a brilliant last year which has included making his debut in the IPL for the Royal Challengers Bangalore as well as his international bow for England in their T20 tour defeat to the West Indies.

Garton is now preparing for the return of the County Championship with Sussex, although he has had a disrupted pre-season due to Covid-19.

He told The Argus: “It was a busy winter for sure, I started off going to the IPL after finals day, and it was my first T20 franchise experience, so it was a case of being thrown straight into the deep end.

“It was a brilliant experience to be put into a dressing room with Virat Kholi and AB de Villiers and Grant Maxwell and names like, and it is hard to comprehend the impact they can have on your career."

The Argus: George Garton still wants to play red ball cricketGeorge Garton still wants to play red ball cricket

Garton admitted there was plenty to learn as he bumped shoulders with some of the world’s best cricketers.

He said: “The more you can interact with someone the more you can learn, especially with Virat Kholi and his life story and the pressure of being India captain and being such an icon of cricket.

“And seeing how he keeps his emotions cool and how he deals with it all and is able to perform at such a high level all the time.

“So I was always trying to pick his brains a little bit along with de Villiers and Maxwell by seeing how they prepared for games and how they deal with high-pressure situations.

“It was also great to observe how they train and go about things.”

Garton admitted that his performances over the winter months in the Big Bash in Australia were not up to scratch but did tell that Argus that there was an effect on him from suffering personal loss back home.

He said: “Family issues going on, and I lost my Grandmother and one of my dogs and I found it really tough being in such a secure bubble which meant I could only do cricket.

“But I learned a lot from the experience, and I would love to go back next year and put things right and show people what I can do.

“I guess the personal stuff is irrelevant as everyone is going through things, and I would love the chance to put it right after things didn’t go right on the pitch.”

Garton was then selected to play for England during the T20 tour of the West Indies.

He said: “I came back for a week to go over the Covid-19 rules, which I then caught again. Luckily it didn’t affect me too badly.

“It felt like deja vu, in terms of being around England and having Covid-19 like I did the summer, and it was an amazing experience.

“It is any young cricketer’s dream to play for their country, and I got an early wicket which settled the nerves, but it was a hard game.

“It was not quite the debut I wanted, and it was an expensive one. It was not the day to be a bowler as it was a high scoring game.

“I would love another chance to play for England soon.”

Garton has started to excel in the shorter format of cricket but he does not want to be pigeonholed into just playing white-ball cricket.

He said: “For me certainly, I am working just as hard on my red ball game as my white ball game. I have also been trying to improve my skill with the bat as well as the ball.

“I am to play all three formats for England, I think white-ball cricket comes a bit more naturally to me, but I really want to push my red ball game and play test cricket.”

Garton missed Sussex’s two friendlies due to the effects of having Covid-19 but has admitted that a plan is in place to get him back on the field.

He said: “I had an MRI scan and some blood tests as my heart rate was affected, and I was getting out of breath quite quickly after I had Covid-19 the second time.

“But hopefully we can put a plan in place to get me back out there for the season opener.

“I am really optimistic for this summer as we have built really well, and I am really looking for to it.”

Garton will be the vice-captain for the T20 side but will not captain when Ravi Bopara is unavailable, which might seem strange but there is a plan in place.

Garton explained to The Argus: “It is a strange one.

"I am going to have a consistent role and build up my leadership without too much responsibility being put on my shoulders.

“I would love to be the captain, and I guess it is a building block towards that.”

Garton grew up in Sussex and went to Hurstpierpoint College.

He made his first-class debut for Sussex against the Leeds/Bradford MCC University side in April 2016.