Head coach Mark Davis is expecting the right response from his Sussex team as they prepare for a weekend double-header that will decide if they progress in the NatWest T20 Blast.
The Sharks host Gloucestershire at Hove tonight (Friday, 7pm) before heading to the Kia Oval on Sunday to face Surrey.
They should have gone into the games in a quarter-final place. Needing 46 off seven overs with seven wickets in hand at Lord’s on Thursday night, they finished up losing by two runs to Middlesex after only scoring two off the final over when they needed five to win.
Davis said he was “extremely annoyed” afterwards and that his players were “stunned” that they threw away the chance of claiming a third successive win.
But he is backing them to show their character, starting tonight against fourth-placed Gloucestershire.
“You can’t get too high or too low in T20 because it is an emotional game, but when you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory like that it is tough to take,” admitted Davis. “We will have to regroup and go again tonight. To go through we probably have to win the next three, but we feel we can. We have been playing really good cricket in the Blast and even on Thursday we were on top for probably 36 of the 40 overs.
“Tonight is a big game but we will come back hard and hopefully beat Gloucestershire. They are a very good unit. Their bowlers take pace off the ball and have a couple of match-winners with the bat and a great captain in Michael Klinger. But if we play at our best I feel we can beat them.”
The only consolation for Davis at Lord’s was Chris Nash continued his excellent form in the Blast with a third successive half-century and fourth in this season’s competition.
“Nashy played out of his socks to put us in a position where we could only lose it ourselves and unfortunately that’s what happened,” said Davis.
“He has been outstanding in the last few games. On Thursday, he was the best player on either side on a pitch which you had to work hard for your runs on.”
There was little wrong with Sussex’s bowling or fielding either but they could do with other batsmen finding their form during their remaining games. Apart from Nash only Stiaan van Zyl currently averages more than 30 and skipper Ross Taylor, whose ten innings have yielded a modest 164 runs, will be keen to sign off with a run of scores before he returns to New Zealand after the group stages for the birth of his third child.