In a season where just one team was to earn promotion, it was always going to be a tough task for Sussex in the County Championship.
But by the time the new year came, suddenly cricket didn’t matter at all. The cricket community was shocked by the death of Matthew Hobden at New Year, a fantastic guy and an excellent cricketer expected to go from strength to strength in 2016. He was just 22.
Emotion around one of cricket’s tightest counties was high. Chris Nash dedicated the first century of his season, and 20th of career, to Hobden, sporting his No.19 jersey, while his parents, brothers, Nash and Sussex team-mates had attended a pre-match ceremony.
The same commemoration fell in their first Championship win, frustrated by draws until their sixth attempt, finally getting over the line in a ten-wicket win over Derbyshire to kick-start their promotion bid.
But draws were ultimately to become the undoing at Hove, with Derbyshire the only side having more than their ten, though just two losses kept them more than in the hunt for an immediate return.
Back-to-back wins against Gloucestershire, by an innings, and Glamorgan by just two wickets kept the hope alive, but a trip to Canterbury proved the ultimate undoing as Kent ended the chance, forcing another season in the lower echelon.
It wasn’t to be too much better on the one-day scene either as, despite starting the T20 Blast campaign on a blistering note, three no-results coupled with six losses proved too much to make the last eight.
Outdoing Gloucestershire by one run, then Somerset by 48 of them, defeats to Surrey followed by double washouts against Hampshire and Middlesex stunted progress.
Some would argue bad luck also played its part, with rain preventing chasing down Glamorgan’s disappointing score of 101, while Hampshire edged out El Clasicoast by just one run as Sussex finished sixth in the South Group.
And the less said about the One-Day Cup, the better. Eight games and one win tells you all you need to know about that competition, the only success coming against Middlesex early on.
Player of the Season: Steve Magoffin
In a particularly disappointing white-ball season for Sussex, it’s a Championship specialist that claims their player of the season accolade. Magoffin terrorised Division Two batsmen all year long, finishing with 62 wickets at a superb average of 20.14. Magoffin claimed a five-wicket haul on five occasions and once landed the rare feat of ten wickets in the match. It was a brilliant campaign for the seamer.
Breakthrough Player: Jofra Archer
The 21-year-old West Indian only made his first Sussex appearance in July, but was a key member of the South Coast sides plans at the back end of the season. 28 Championship wickets came from his seven matches while he also performed with good control and threat with the white ball. Still a raw talent, but Jofra is one to look upon with great interest.
Could have done better: Danny Briggs
Briggs made the surprise switch from Hampshire at the end of 2015 and has really struggled this season. His 11 Championship matches yielded just 23 wickets, while the man widely tipped to be England’s regular One-Day spinner after making his international debut in 2012 also struggled with the white ball. Seven T20 Blast wickets from ten matches and six RLODC wickets from six matches represents a really poor return for the left-arm spinner.
LVCC: 4th, Division Two
T20 Blast: Group Stage (6th, North Group)
RLODC: Group Stage (9th, South Group)
SSCC: Chris Nash – 1256 @ 54.60; T20 Blast: Ross Taylor – 394 – SR: 133.10; RLODC: Luke Wright – 249 @ 31.12
SSCC: Steve Magoffin – 62 @ 20.14; T20 Blast: Tyrone Mills – 15 – Econ: 7.65; RLODC: Chris Jordan – 13 – Econ: 5.25
Win %: 31.57%
Need to work on
Chris Nash and Ed Joyce put runs on the board, but Sussex need to find more runs across the board. Magoffin aside, they also didn’t take enough wickets. Jofra was the second-highest wicket taker and he didn’t play until July – highlighting their struggles. In the One-Day formats, this was just a dismal season for Sussex who are usually such a good limited-overs side. They need to recapture their winning formula, and keep Luke Wright fit.
The influential Joyce is out of contract and Sussex are waiting to see if he will play on for another season. Craig Cachopa has been released and will head back to New Zealand. Sussex are looking at additions to their squad in both batting and bowling departments, and will hope they don’t have to find a replacement for Joyce.
The expectation was promotion straight back to Division One and they never really challenged. Bottom of the RLODC South Group and dumped out at the Group Stage of the T20 Blast, this was a desperately disappointing season for Sussex.