BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in October 2007We've left it here for reference.More information
Listen to Radio Five Live Sports Extra - BBC Radio Player

Test Match Special

The blog from the boundary

Struggling Sussex dig deep

  • Kevin Howells - Five Live cricket reporter
  • 19 May 07, 05:38 PM

Kevin Howells"Stay strong" is the gist of what Sussex professional cricket manager Mark Robinson is saying to his men this weekend.

A quarter of the way into the County Championship season, things are not as bright as the holders would like. They are not making any excuses and captain Chris Adams has told me that the players are "hurting".

Matt Prior celebrates his century for England
Not all of them are. One is away with England this week and what a start he's made to his Test career. On Friday it was just at the same time that Richard Montgomerie and Carl Hopkinson were hurrying off the field, having been offered bad light and facing the tough job of following on, that the biggest cheer of the day rang out around the ground.

Matt Prior had scored his century at Lord's. Thirty minutes later play was again under way at Hove and Montgomerie and Hopkinson were dismissed and back in the pavilion.

There are problems at the club but it's also a time to raise a glass to former coach Peter Moores and Prior. Sussex feel justly proud of those two this week.

Robinson said: "Matt's elevation to England is a great endorsement for everything that is good about this club and what we like to promote. England thankfully have gone bold and brave and picked a young keeper.

"Whilst some people have been talking about the role that Alec Stewart has played with Matty's rise, I would like to mention Adams who has mentored him and assistant coach Mark Davis, who for the last three weeks has been throwing balls down every day at Prior to such a degree his shoulder is almost dropping off.

"We also know the part Moores has played in the recent success of this county."

At this stage of the season I'm not convinced Sussex have too much too worry about, although Robinson says the start is a concern and they always target making a impact at this time of the year, as they did successfully last season.

He said: "We are notoriously poor starters probably because of the fact that we have an international leg-spinner who doesn't like the cold.

"Last year Mushtaq Ahmed was all the time saying, 'I'm going to make a good start' and he kept on saying it. This time he's always talking about Bob Woolmer which is, of course, not his fault and you understand it. He gets one press call a day and I get two."

The little fella was sent back to Lahore last week to see his family but again as the story over Woolmer's death took another turn there were around 20 press men surrounding his home and following him. Hardly the respite he was looking for.

Excuses are not being made but circumstances have dealt the club a bad hand so far. At one point they had only 12 fit players, although the squad does only stretch to 18.

Adams admits: "It's a battle this time of the year and the way things are going it's keeping us honest and keen. You have to work that little bit harder but it does make you realise that when the times are good and seem to flow for you it makes it that more special, because right now without doubt this team is hurting.

"I would love to say we haven't done this and we haven't done that but that is not the case. In fact, if we are guilty of anything it's probably over working and trying too hard to correct things."

Another factor which Adams thinks must be taken seriously is that to date he hasn't won a toss. Last year he won the vast majority in the Championship and that at the end of a season does have some significance.

"Grizzly" has just struck a century to help his side draw with Surrey, a result which will help lift some of the pain he says they are all feeling.

Murray Goodwin played magnificently to add a double hundred to his century he scored in the first innings. That’s twice in three weeks I've seen that now. Younis Khan did that in Southampton for Yorkshire.

What does concern some people is whether Sussex could have done more to build on their success last time and bring in a big-name player during the winter. They did try but talent such as Darren Maddy and Will Jefferson turned them down.

Money wasn't necessarily the issue, although if Adams had left it would have given the club a pot of cash and it is the case that if Sussex want to make a high-profile signing they would need to offload one they already have. But here Adams has proved that his staying won't have a been a bad thing but a positive.

Perhaps this isn't a big-name club but Adams has a right to think he is one himself. Their victories have always been put down to the team ethic.

Robinson is hopeful that the likes of 19-year-old Tom Smith will come good, as hopefully will Michael Thornely. Veteran Saqlain Mushtaq was a 'punt' but the excitement surrounds Chris Liddle, the fast bowler signed from Leicestershire.

I''m told he has "heart and a fire in his belly" and can bowl quick. He isn't quite ready yet but in his two matches so far he did well. Robinson admits he has couple of things to work on and at least being forced into early first-team action means he knows what exactly he has to do.

Sussex celebrate title success.jpg Twice in recent years a county has enjoyed the champagne and plaudits winning the much-coveted Championship title to descend 12 months later into relegation material. Yorkshire did in 2001/2002 and Nottinghamshire 2005/2006. How does that happen? In Yorkshire's case there was the usual squabbling and departures and the best I can offer on Notts is they took their eye off the job in hand. Will Sussex go the same way?

Well they have talked about what happened at Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and England both cricket and rugby and issues over getting ahead of yourselves. They have laid out plans for the season to avoid that sort of slip up. But clearly they haven't coped with the injuries and distractions.

It's too early to write them off yet. The sooner Mike Yardy gets back the better. Last season he averaged 50.77 in the Championship, just pipping Adams into second place behind Goodwin who was up in the sixties.

Mushy must take the wickets, remember he packed his bags last September with another 100 of them to his name. He must have so much else on his mind but if he can get it right and Rana, Lewry and Kirtley are firing, they should be able to do enough at least to avoid the humiliation of going from champions to relegation.

But this is a team which must stay alert to replenishing their stocks. It will be great if they can do so from within. It's probably their only and best option. It suits a club like this.

I always enjoy my visits to the seaside at Brighton and Hove but what has happened to the traditional shows? No sign of the Chuckle Brothers, Cannon and Ball or the Grumbleweeds. The big one this week was '"The ladyboys of Bangkok!"

Post a comment

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

Contact details

Comments

  1. At 12:24 AM on 20 May 2007, iky wrote:

    i agree with your comments. however.. being a pakistani supporter, i understand the pain mushy is goin through. he is a senior player to the pakistanis and highly respected. he also was very very close to the late bob woolmer( god bless his soul) therefore he must be allowed time to get back into his natural game. :)

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  2. At 11:00 AM on 20 May 2007, Mark Andrews wrote:

    I think one of the biggest problems affecting us right now is the number of dropped catches. In the four championship games so far the Sussex fielders have dropped something like 10 or 11 chances. Ramprakash and Butcher were dropped 5 times between them during the game that has just finished. We can't win games like that. It is not what you expect from a team that has made its name of being the most efficient county in terms of preperation for their games.

    The long term problem of the opening partnership is another big issue. Monty has performed excellently for us but this is his benefit year and he is not going to be around forever. I hate to say it but Carl Hopkinson has been given enough time now to show that he really isn't up to opening. His wicket coming early on in the innings is a given and it is a position we urgently need to address. I would hope that when Yardy returns from his injury that either he or Nash can assume the second opening slot.

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  3. At 04:24 PM on 20 May 2007, John wrote:

    Interesting points there
    "The ladyboys of Bangkok!"?

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  4. At 06:44 PM on 20 May 2007, paul wrote:

    i'll not argue with the comments, except...
    here in sunny brighton
    we breath a huuuge sigh of relief that
    'the traditional shows' you hanker after
    are relegated to yesteryear.
    you don't have to look far
    (especially during brighton festival,
    that's now in full swing)
    to find more exciting entertainment
    than you can shake a silly leg glance at
    (the 'ladyboys', however,
    are prone to succumb to googlies,
    what with their delicate bails and all that).
    cheers

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  5. At 01:34 PM on 21 May 2007, Tom in Brighton wrote:

    Perhaps us Sussex supporters may have to start considering the possibility that our great team may have already reached the height of its powers. Some players are clearly feeling the strain after being part of the smallest squad in county cricket for the last few seasons. Having Yardy back will be a great plus and I agree that he should probably open with Monty. Hopkinson may just not be up to it at the moment. Also, at a time of year when we would expect Rana to be getting wickets, he has continued his injury-affected poor form (compared to his own high standards) of the last 12 months. A fit and firing Lewry would make a great deal of difference. RMJ has had a good start to the season with the ball and it would be great to see Luke Wright come on a little further. As for Mushy, I refer back to my first couple of sentences: perhaps his powers may finally be weakening. Still a sack of Mushy wickets from July onwards could put me right. Looking forward to the match against Surrey tomorrow. Perhaps the Sky cameras will getting us going.

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  6. At 06:48 AM on 24 May 2007, Graem Peters wrote:

    Possibly 'No Plan B'
    When you get into a winning run, confidence is high, you are positive and almost expect to win every game you play. Even great sides like Australia struggle when they are put under pressure. Such teams can find themselves in unfamiliar territory and don't know how to adapt their game to changing circumstances.
    When the sussex top order batting has failed to fire, capable lower order batters just seem to be throwing their wickets away playing rash shots rather than digging in.
    Some coaches would describe this as their team being over-confident. Whilst confidence will now have been dented, this does not mean that any player's approach to the game will change.
    Their is enough experience players in the side. Hopefully they will react in the right way.

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  7. At 03:11 PM on 24 May 2007, Steven Teale wrote:

    There are far too many doubters!

    The important thing to remember is that it is still early in the season and there is a long way to go.

    To write Mushy off is silly - he took ten wickets against Kent in April and he'll be back in business when the weather dries out. To blame his lack of form on Bob Woolmer's murder could well be wrong - playing is probably an 'escape' for him. Having said that he must certainly be grieving all the same. Terrible business.

    I couldn't agree more about Hopkinson - knowing him, he would agree also. We need to get the injuries sorted and the results will come naturally.

    Don't give up on the boys just yet!

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  8. At 05:00 PM on 29 May 2007, PETER VERRALL wrote:


    There is no slump, just a blip.We have the best captain, the best bowlers and certainly the best batsmen. Do not lose faith it will come right just be patient.

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  9. At 11:36 AM on 15 Jun 2007, danny bright wrote:

    susse have batted poorly this season few people have one on to make big totals and we havent been ating consistently

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  10. At 09:18 AM on 20 Jul 2007, Simon wrote:

    With the team now one point off the top of the championship and in the semi finals of the Twenty20, is it not about time this article was removed from the Sussex home page, on the grounds that it is somewhat obsolete?

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  11. At 05:16 PM on 24 Jul 2007, Jack wrote:

    Simon, before complacency sets in (again?), perhaps this posting can remain a fairly useful base-line against which to measure continuing progress this season.

    I would certainly like to agree with you, and the table is currently with us to some extent, but I am not underestimating any of the outstanding games (not least one starting tomorrow, where I can think of one opponent who may still want to to prove something in his chosen discipline).

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  12. At 09:46 AM on 03 Aug 2007, Ben Dean wrote:

    Not such a slump now for Sussex - top of the County Championship once again!

    Chris Nash for England!!!

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  13. At 01:03 PM on 10 Sep 2007, N. Hartley wrote:

    Why is there a link to an article asking why Sussex are struggling this season still on the Sussex CCC page of BBC sport's site in September, when Sussex are top of the county table?

    Does the BBC not like Sussex CCC? I don't believe they tipped them for success before the season started....

    Given the limited resources of this small club, the question should rather be, why are they so successful?

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  14. At 12:34 PM on 11 Sep 2007, Simon Glass wrote:

    Isn't it time this article was removed considering Sussex are top with the Championship in their sights?

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy