Sussex County Cricket Club, homed at the picturesque County Ground in Hove, have enjoyed a period of unrivalled success in the last six years, both in one-day cricket and the County Championship. Wins in 2003, 2006 and 2007 cemented Sussex as the dominant force in 4-day cricket, however this has been somewhat tarnished by relegation to Division 2 this year.
Sussex hosted Australia earlier in the summer and put up a good fight, only Brett Lee’s pace seemed to trouble the batsman, with spinner Nathan Hauritz made to look decidedly ordinary.
Relegation from the County Championship was all but sealed after an uncharacteristic batting collapse against Yorkshire.
Missing Luke Wright and Matt Prior for the latter part of the campaign on England duty may have been a factor to Sussex’s disappointing finish but in local wicket-keeper Andrew Hodd, the county has perhaps unearthed a future incumbent of Prior’s England role.
Hodd’s tenacious batting combines well with the lower-order power of Rory Hamilton-Brown, another player who appears to have prospered since joining the county.
Prior has settled into the role of England wicket-keeper despite the criticism that he received for his glove-work earlier in his career. It was his sharp glove work that accounted for Marcus North in the 5th and final Test as England secured a second consecutive Ashes victory on English (and Welsh) soil.
In the one-day format Sussex have just clinched a second successive victory in the Pro40 competition, pocketed the Twenty20 trophy, and reached the final of the C&G Trophy in a season dominated by the Sharks; they head to India this winter to represent England in the Champions Trophy.
Sussex bowlers Corey Collymore and Chris Liddle have committed to the county for another year. The Sussex attack is perhaps more suited to one-day cricket, with a host of containing bowlers rather than genuine wicket-taking bowlers with the exception of Piyush Chawla. James Kirtley continued to be plagued by injury problems, but when fit looked menacing particularly in the shorter form of the game.
Dwayne Smith has had an influential season, slapping quick lower-order runs and taking vital wickets including four in an over in the dark against Nottinghamshire.
Ed Joyce enjoyed the new challenge after moving from Middlesex and scored top-order runs along with Chris Nash and Michael Yardy throughout the summer in all forms of the game.
Reflecting on relegation, coach Mark Robinson thought that the lack of positive results were a factor, he said: “You can’t really say it has been a great season because we have been relegated. The first division is very tight, probably because we are in a period when there are few outstanding match-winning bowlers.”