Sussex captain Ben Brown insists their season will be judged as a success, even if it finishes in disappointment.
Brown watched from the dugout on Saturday as Sussex lost in the final of the Vitality Blast to Worcestershire.
There wasn’t much he could do to impact events at Edgbaston, but he will be back in the thick of the action tomorrow (Tues) when Sussex face Warwickshire in the first of two must-win Specsavers County Championship games.
Sussex have won five of their last seven matches in Division Two, but it’s the damaging defeats to Middlesex and Durham during that sequence which have left them third in the table behind Warwickshire and Kent and playing catch-up.
The gap between Sussex and second-placed Kent is 21 points with Warwickshire a further 12 in front. At least Sussex know what they have to do – beat the leaders at Hove starting tomorrow and then win at Northamptonshire in the final round of fixtures. They could also do with Glamorgan doing them an unlikely favour by beating Kent at Canterbury this week.
With Warwickshire concluding their fixtures at home to Kent, there is still a chance that they could squeeze into the top two.
Brown said: “Whatever happens now, I think there has been huge progress this season. We were outplayed last week at Durham and I know people were disappointed, particularly with our batting, but it’s important to remember that we have a young top order, who are still learning their trade.
“We know we have to get better against a strong Warwickshire side and we can’t let the result against Durham last week distract us but it’s definitely not all doom and gloom. There have been lots of positive and there is a lot to play for.”
A win or draw for Warwickshire will seal promotion this week which gives Sussex further incentive to beat the Bears and make sure they have something to play for when they face Kent at Edgbaston in the final round.
“Realistically, we have got to win them both,” said Brown. “I see playing Warwickshire as a huge plus for us. We know that if we beat them we are right back in the hunt because they play Kent in the last game and they can’t both win of course.
“There is some pressure of course, but (Head Coach) Jason Gillespie will keep us nice and calm. We’ve got a pretty good record in four-day cricket at Hove this season and we need that to continue.”
The good news for Sussex is that they are unbeaten in the Championship at Hove this season and the Bears have only won once there since 2002.
Head coach Jason Gillespie has added leg-spinner Will Beer to the 13-man squad that was announced for the match against Durham last week.
Ollie Robinson is the leading England-qualified Championship wicket-taker in the country with 65 scalps so far this term, and is one dismissal behind the overall leader, Kent’s Matt Henry. Captain Brown’s 792 runs make him the sixth highest run-scorer in division two.
Danny Briggs is in line for his 100th first-class appearance in tomorrow’s match. Six runs will take David Wiese to 5,000 first-class runs, while Phil Salt and Jofra Archer are 75 and 13 away from 1,000 first-class runs respectively. One wicket will see Chris Jordan to his 100th first-class wicket.
Sussex CCC squad
Ben Brown (capt. & wk)