Steve Smith’s arrival in the County Championship came with much fanfare and was accompanied by plenty of debate.

For some, it was a disgrace, offering a key member of Australia’s batting line-up invaluable match practice in the build-up to the Ashes. The fact that many of England’s stars – the likes of Harry Brook, Joe Root and Ben Stokes – were tuning up by doing not very much in the IPL rankled further.

For others, it was proof of the enduring appeal of the County Championship, and a much-needed fillip for a competition never short of detractors. And besides, there’s very little stopping Smith from racking up hundreds upon hundreds in the Ashes, no matter what sort of prep he’s had beforehand.

What received less discussion was the impact on Sussex. It is without doubt a coup for the county to have Smith in their ranks, and the thought of him batting in tandem with Cheteshwar Pujara, another great of the game, is mouthwatering. But – and whisper it – is there an argument that Smith’s presence might actually by holding the South Coast side back?

This is no criticism of Smith himself, but a complication presented by county cricket’s overseas regulations. Only two imports are allowed per starting XI, meaning that, with Smith and Pujara both must-picks, Nathan McAndrew had to sit out Sussex’s game against Worcestershire, with the Aussie quick also warming the bench against Leicestershire.

McAndrew, a 29-year-old with barely 100 first-class wickets and an average north of 30, is not near Smith’s calibre as a cricketer. But he was desperately missed at New Road. England’s Ollie Robinson did his best, taking an astonishing 14 wickets in the game. But the rest of the Sussex team managed combined figures of 4-379, and Worcestershire escaped with a draw.

McAndrew has been a key part of Sussex’s attack this season, taking 15 wickets at 20.60. Robinson aside, none of Sussex’s other bowlers have averaged less than 27. And his absence may be even more keenly felt against Leicestershire, with Robinson rested by the ECB. Sussex’s attack instead consists of Ari Karvelas, Henry Crocombe, Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Sean Hunt, and looks short on experience. None of that quartet has even 60 wickets in first-class cricket.

Sussex currently sit second in Division Two, unbeaten after four games, a welcome change after finishing in the bottom two in three successive seasons in the County Championship and Bob Willis Trophy. But with results at a premium after the number of points on offer for a draw was reduced, Sussex need wins if they are to mount a promotion push, and in their sole win this season, McAndrew was key, taking a first-innings five-for to halt a first-innings assault from Durham.

With Pujara in the side, Sussex are rarely likely to be short of runs. He averages 97.62 for them in the County Championship, with eight hundreds from 12 games. Instead, it’s wickets Sussex need. Smith may yet put up similar numbers to his Indian teammate. But, if they do struggle for scalps in the remainder of his time at the club, could Sussex look back at his signing with a tinge of regret?