Sussex will reflect on a season of missed opportunities.
With three sides promoted from Division Two, it was a real chance for Jason Gillespie’s men to grasp the nettle and stake their claim for a top-flight spot.
On paper, they ought to have been in a four-way battle with Lancashire, Worcestershire and Middlesex. While Lancashire were the runaway winners, Sussex came the closest of the other three while never really taking a hold of a top three place.
For Sussex to have been beaten to Division One by Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire will really grate with supporters, who would have hoped for better from a talented squad.
It was a squad that was stripped of star pace bowler Jofra Archer, due to his IPL commitments and subsequent starring role for England in all formats throughout the summer, and they were unable to put as many wins on the board as they would have hoped.
No batsman got close to 1,000 runs for the season – Stiaan Van Zyl the closest with 820 – and that lack of runs underpinned a below-par effort. While they were always in contention for that top three spot, ultimately Sussex fell short.
Ollie Robinson was head and shoulders ahead of their other bowlers with the red ball, and can look back with pride over his campaign.
Away from the Championship, Sussex were unable to ignite in the Royal London One-Day but once again showed their quality in the Vitality Blast.
Having been beaten in the final by Worcestershire in 2018, they stormed to top spot in the South Group before falling to the Rapids again in the quarter-final.
Sussex are a quality unit in the Blast and are always there or thereabouts.
SSCC: Sixth, Division Two
Vitality Blast: Quarterfinals (1st, South Group)
RLODC: Fifth, South Group
SCCC: Stiaan Van Zyl, 820 runs @ 48.23
Vitality Blast: Phil Salt, 406 @ 36.90
RLODC: Luke Wright, 409 runs @ 58.42
SSCC: Ollie Robinson, 63 wickets @ 16.44
Vitality Blast: Reece Topley, 17 wickets @17.94
RLODC: Mir Hamza, 18 wickets @ 26.88
Player of the Season
Sussex’s hopes of Championship promotion were carried largely by paceman Ollie Robinson. The 25-year-old had a superb season, racking up 63 wickets – the second best total in Division Two – at a mighty average of 16.44. His performances will certainly have caught the eye of England selectors and Sussex will hope he can build on those displays in 2020.
Could have done better
Phil Salt did not have a terrible season by any means but, having been named in England’s white-ball squad at the start of the summer, would have liked to press his international claims with more runs across the season. His 603 runs in the Championship are below bar for a player of his quality, although he was impressive in the Blast – top-scoring for Sussex with 406 runs.
Need to work on
This is a side that ought to have come much closer to promotion and, as such, they need to deliver more consistent displays to challenge next season. In the Blast, they have shown their quality once again and will be confident of impressing again next season.
Promotion has to be the main objective. Sussex have consistently performed in white-ball cricket but need to find a bit of that consistency in the Championship. Gillespie will surely be focused on getting his side into the top flight and will need to ensure they put more runs on the board to do so.
Season Rating: 4/10