Have you Wintered well? Part 9: Sussex

Have you Wintered well? Part 9: Sussex

At a time when we are all missing the cricket season, our writers endeavour to keep you happy with some county-by-county information on Winter activity. Terry Wright has the details from Sussex. Please note that all information given is correct at time of publication.

Sussex Sharks
Photo courtesy of the ECB on Youtube, with thanks

Even more than most counties, all those associated with Sussex – players, staff, members and supporters – are surely feeling a massive sense of frustration. In their minds, 2020 was destined to be the season when, after four years of second division cricket, they would achieve that coveted promotion.  

Last year was a huge disappointment. In a season when three teams were to be promoted to the top flight in the County Championship, Sussex could do no better than sixth place. In their Royal London One Day Cup group, fifth place was equally underwhelming.  

Only in the T20 Blast did they come close to achieving their potential. Even there, top position in the South Group was followed by defeat to Worcestershire in a home quarter final, thanks to a destructive Moeen Ali century.

Partly in response to these disappointments, there have been changes both on and off the field. To be sure, the Club have retained faith in Head Coach Jason Gillespie who has agreed a three year contract extension. Below him, however, James Kirtley has come in as bowling coach with Jason Swift and Ian Salisbury as batting and spin bowling coaches respectively.

Sussex also have a new head groundsperson in Ben Gibson, who has stepped up following the departure of Andy Mackay who has moved to the ECB as their Pitches and Grounds Advisor.

With Reece Topley departing to Surrey, Sussex have reinforced their playing squad by recruiting Ravi Bopara from Essex, Stuart Meaker from Surrey and Mitch Claydon from Kent. They certainly have experience on their side, with their combined ages topping the 100 mark.   

Also during the winter, Travis Head was signed up to come in as overseas player, supported by Rashid Khan for the T20 Blast.

All this, of course, is now up in the air.  Most of the staff, including the players and coaches have been furloughed.  

Ollie Robinson, who will have been hoping to build on his winter experience with the Lions in Australia by pushing for full international honours, will have to bide his time. He may be partly consoled by having been given a three year contract extension.

Left arm quick bowler George Garton is another who would have been looking for a big season. Having been unexpectedly called into the full England squad on the last Ashes tour, after he had played only nine first-class games, he has since suffered a frustrating time with injuries. These included a side strain, incurred when picking up a suitcase from the baggage carousel at Los Angeles airport. What a few tough old-time Sussex bowlers like Maurice Tate would have said about that is best not imagined. 

As for the 11 Sussex players who were picked up in The Hundred draft, it is looking increasingly unlikely that they will get to play in this new format in 2020. 

Sussex supporters can take pride in the fact that Jofra Archer has been named as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year. He is the first Sussex player to be so honoured since Matt Prior a decade ago.  

Hopefully, that thought may help to distract their minds from visions of empty deckchairs at Hove.

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