7:05 AM ET
Andrew Miller at Hove
Rob Andrew, the Sussex chief executive, says that the club will not be rushed into appointing a new head coach in the wake of Mark Davis’s departure last month, adding that the priority in the close season has been to firm up the contracts of the players whom the management believe can restore the club to its recent glories.
Andrew, who took up the reins at Hove in January after a decade at the Rugby Football Union, oversaw a difficult first season, in which Sussex failed to secure a return to the top flight of the County Championship, while slipping out at the group stages of both the NatWest T20 Blast and the Royal London One-Day Cup.
That sense of under-achievement was compounded late last month when two club stalwarts left in quick succession – Chris Nash, the veteran batsman, who accepted a three-year deal at Nottinghamshire, and Davis, whose 16-year association with Hove extended way beyond his two years as coach.
The twin departures represented a further distancing of the current Sussex squad from the great team of the early 2000s, which won the first Championship title in the club’s history in 2003, then added two more pennants in 2006 and 2007. Andrew, however, was unapologetic about the new direction of travel.
“There’s been some changes happening, but that’s the nature of sport,” Andrew told ESPNcricinfo. “I’ve really enjoyed the year. I’ve enjoyed getting to understand the club, and we’ve got a very, very clear direction of where we are going and the next few years will genuinely be very exciting.
“It was pretty clear when I looked into the job that the club had maybe been treading water a little, probably for the last two or three years really, with short-term signings – some have worked, some haven’t. But it takes time to rebuild a side, especially when you’ve been on a very successful period.”
With that in mind, Andrew would not be drawn on the possible contenders for the role of head coach. Two of the club’s most notable ex-players – the title-winning captain, Chris Adams, and the former England wicketkeeper, Matt Prior – have both been linked with a return to Hove, but beyond insisting that interest in the coaching vacancy had been high, the CEO remained tight-lipped.
“I’m not going to get dragged into speculation, but we will make the right appointment as head coach,” he said. “We are not in any great hurry, there’s no timeline on it because it’s a big decision that we’ve got to get right. The club hasn’t really had that many coaching changes if you look back at how long Mark was here [initially as 2nd XI coach], and Mark Robinson before that.”
Behind the scenes, Sussex have been identifying the players that they believe will form the core of the team in the future – Luke Wells recently committed to another two years, as did Chris Jordan, while Luke Wright and George Garton – their hugely talented left-arm quick who was last week called up to reinforce England’s Ashes squad – have both extended their contracts until the end of 2020.
“He’s very talented, very young, and still very inexperienced,” said Andrew of Garton. “We’ve all got to be a bit careful not to get too carried away.
“We have got some very talented young players – George is one of them, Jofra Archer is one of the first names I came across when we first joined, Stuart Whittingham, Abe Sakande these are very talented young bowlers coming through the system.
“But we also need experience around the place, we need our experienced players to step up and with the signing of Stiaan van Zyl and David Wiese, there were signs last season that they were getting used to the club. Luke Wells was the second-highest run-scorer in the country, but we need to be more consistent.”
In the longer term, however, Sussex’s hopes for a full-blown regeneration may be hampered by the looming upheaval in English domestic cricket – namely the launch of the new-team T20 competition in 2020.
The details of the tournament remain to be thrashed out, but despite Hove’s history as county pioneers – in 1999, they became the first English club to install permanent floodlights – the size of the venue means that they face being overlooked when it comes to the allocation of these new marquee fixtures.
“It’s something I’ve tried to get my head round since I started,” said Andrew. “It’s been the big talking point. We are now into the nuts and bolts, the nitty-gritty of what is it going to look like and what impact is it going to have on counties – who will be a host, and who won’t.
“From my perspective, I hope it won’t have a negative impact on Sussex, because the whole premise of the new competition is that all 18 counties benefit, and share in the rewards. We all need it to be successful. And we don’t need a split between Test-match and non-Test match grounds.
“I’m confident that a club like Sussex can be successful in all formats, just look at what Essex did in the County Championship this year.”
As for whether Sussex need to consider finding a new home for a new era of county cricket, Andrew insisted this was highly unlikely, without ruling out the possibility entirely.
“I haven’t been here long enough to really understand the politics of the club, but I think it would be very, very unusual if we were to consider moving from here,” he said.
“I think we need to improve the ground and that’s something we need to look at, but this is a fantastic county ground. We can be successful from here, we can retain our best young players, which is what we’ve done in the last month, and we’ve proven that.
“Cricket’s got into too much debt because of the push to get more and more Test grounds,” he added. “There is possibly going to be less Test cricket but more Test grounds, so us Read More…
Via:: Cricket – ESPN