John Simpson aims to lead Sussex back into the top flight after taking over as Championship captain.

The close-season signing from Middlesex leads his side out for the first time today as they face relegated Northants at Hove in division two.

It is now nine years since the county came down and they have had some really tough years since Covid.

But two late-season wins last term plus the addition of experience to the squad have built hopes they can make the big step up this year.

Simpson has no doubts about the target for the coming months.

He said: “The start of any season is always exciting.

“It’s going to be my 17th season so a little bit different to most of the other boys.

“We have got some incredibly exciting young talent and we have got the likes of Jayden Seales coming in and having Ollie Robinson is going to really add to our squad, which I think is really well-balanced.

“It’s about us doing what we do best and hopefully that is getting promoted.

“I want to win games of cricket. I haven’t come here to sort of settle into the dust and retire.

“I want to win things and that is what I have been reiterating to the boys.

“We want to win trophies and that is where we are as a club.”

Cheteshwar Pujara misses the opening fixture due to a back injury but Simpson, Seales and Danny Lamb make Sussex debuts.

The county hope to put early wins on the board while they have strike bowlers Robinson and Seales in partnership.

Head coach Paul Farbrace said: “We will always have four seamers, a couple of our top-order batters who bowl as well and we will always have two spinners in the team.

“We got ourselves into good positions last season and that is where I think winning the last two games gives the team belief we can win from any situation.”

Opener Tom Clark goes into the season buoyed by a contact extension which runs until at least the end of the 2026 season.

Sussex: From Alsop, Carson, Carter, Clark, Coles, Crocombe, Haines, Hudson-Prentice, Hunt, Karvelas, Lamb, Robinson, Seales, Simpson.