Captain Ben Brown reviews Sussex's 2019 campaign exclusively for Sussex Newspapers.
There are definitely some positives from this season, – but are some obvious improvements we need to make as well.
Consistency has been a big issue for us and a lot of that stems from the lack of squad depth. Heading into this year, that lack of strength in depth was a worry for me. I was looking at the squad thinking, ‘if so and so gets injured or if so and so gets called up for England or someone loses form, then how do we cope?’.
It’s meant that there have been times when I’ve put out a side and thought that it looks like a side that could really compete in division one, and others when I’ve thought, ‘gee, this is going to be a tough game against opposition that - whether we like it - or not are stronger than us on paper’.
Looking ahead, getting through a season where we can put out something close to our strongest side on a regular basis is probably the key for us.
The signings of Travis Head and Mitch Claydon are great acquisitions and will help a lot with that. We’d have loved to have had an overseas batsman for the last couple of seasons.
It’s obvious we needed that, but unfortunately at the same time we haven’t had the bowling stocks to even be able to think about getting someone in.
We’ve had to get people like Mir Hamza and Ishant Sharma in to tide us over with the ball.
Mitch Claydon is a smart signing as it boosts the bowling in the short-term, let’s get someone like Travis in to strengthen the batting, and buys us the time to find longer term solutions to our bowling needs. Reece Topley has come in as well and will help that.
For the guys that didn’t have the year they wanted this year, they have to use the emotion they’re feeling now to drive their winters.
If you’re feeling that the game has beaten you up a bit, or you’re reading some nasty comments about your performances, you’ve got to harness the way that makes you feel and use it as the drive to improve over the winter.
You can’t now take a month off, forget about how you’re feeling now and just hope that next season will go better.
You’ve got to think hard about how to improve. Maybe find new ways of doing things: seek new coaches or pay for yourself to go away and work with someone.
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It’s about driving your own career and taking responsibility for making sure you’ve got the technique to bat in England. There are guys that need to improve, and I really hope they go away and do that. Travis Head takes a batting space away next year, so there is increased pressure on places and I want they guys to use that as motivation to make sure they’re demanding a spot in the team.
We want to give players opportunity, but we aren’t going to be giving out caps just because developing homegrown players is our policy. I’m looking forward to building a batting line-up around experienced players like Stiaan, myself and Travis and seeing which of the emerging players fill the remaining places.
On a personal level, I’m really enjoying my roles at Sussex. I’ve been pleased with the way I’ve managed my workload as captain, keeper and a batter and I am enjoying working hard on getting the club to go in the right direction.
It’s taking a bit of time and hopefully our supporters can stay patient, because I think for next year – with our signings, with the lessons learned the guys who haven’t done as well as they would have liked are hopefully learning – there is real optimism that we’ll be much stronger.
One thing I can’t fault about anyone this year is their commitment, energy and drive to improve. I know supporters want results and are probably tired of hearing things like that, which I totally understand, but from the inside, without those things you really feel like you’re going nowhere.
But I know that’s all in place with the current group of players and so the focus is on upskilling, making sure we’re better cricketers and coming back stronger next year. There’s a lot going on inside that dressing room that is positive and so there are things to be excited about with this side.
I’m starting my winter with the Three Peaks Challenge for the Professional Cricketers’ Trust. My great friend Tom Smith lost his wife, Laura, and we felt that we needed to do something positive out of that tragic situation so we’ve decided to do that.
It’ll be a shock to the body getting up those hills in October, which is usually a rest month, but I’m excited about doing something for charity.
After that, I am starting my a masters in sports directorship. I’m really looking forward to developing myself as a person, having a bit of a distraction from cricket. It’ll be a very different sort of challenge to that I’m used to and will probably put things like being 40 for five into perspective!
Sponsor my Three Peaks Challenge for the Professional Cricketers Trust at www.justgiving.com/ben-brown45