Gillespie: Cricket faces big challenges - but Sussex's future is very bright

Jason Gillespie has written an open letter to Sussex fans after ending his three-season stint as head coach.

Jason Gillespie had a mixed three years as head coach of Sussex / Picture: Getty
Jason Gillespie had a mixed three years as head coach of Sussex / Picture: Getty

He tells supporters the future is bright for the county and to have faith in the ‘Sussex pathway’.

His message comes after his departure provoked a mixed reaction from supporters - with some thanking him for his efforts and saying he would be missed but others pointing to a lack of trophies or promotion, or saying they felt let down he had left at this point.

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Here is his letter in full:

“As I sit in a hotel in Adelaide in quarantine upon my return from the UK, I thought I’d take a few moments to reflect on my time at Sussex CCC.

When I was in discussions with the club back in late 2017 about the role, there was a real desire for change. The club was very keen to develop players through the Sussex Pathway, which was a strategy that aligned with what I believed was the right thing for the club to build for sustained success.

This does not mean that if a good player and person from outside the county became available, we wouldn’t pursue, but the message was clear - let’s create an environment for the players and team to thrive.

Finding that balance between winning now (which satisfies supporters in the shorter term) and putting the building blocks in place to drive culture change for medium to long term success presents significant challenges. This can be complicated with multiple formats of the game, but it certainly can be done and has been done at Sussex and elsewhere in the past.

I’m often asked what success looks like. Is it promotion? Is it winning trophies? Is it having players represent England and/or making squads for England?

The simple answer is that ideally, you’d love to satisfy all of the above!

Breaking down the last three years into four-day and one day/T20 cricket, it’s clear the club made some progress in the short forms. This included a T20 Finals Day appearance and qualifying for quarter-finals in each of the last three years. 50-over cricket saw some brilliant and exciting cricket matches, opportunities for young Sussex players to thrive and some special, record breaking individual performances without quite nailing that team success.

In Championship cricket, we were not as successful. There were some memorable wins along with some outstanding individual contributions, however we simply did not have enough consistent individual performances from enough established players. After performances in seasons 2018 and 2019, this was the catalyst for looking to give some more opportunities for new players throughout the Sussex Pathway in the disrupted 2020 season with the Bob Willis Trophy.

Seeing some young bowlers show that they can perform at first-class level was a real highlight in the BWT and while the batting group had some struggles in the second innings of games, the fact that we had a first innings lead in four of our five BWT matches with opportunities to win games demonstrates that the skill and potential of the batters is there. Add in the experience of two overseas batsmen for season 2021 and there is real cause for optimism for Sussex supporters going forward.

Opportunities afforded to Sussex players, particularly in the BWT, has shown the Sussex CCC supporters a glimpse into the future. And that future is very bright.

The signings of Carson, Crocombe and Atkins are very exciting as well as the contract extensions of Haines, Rawlins and Garton, who have already shown that they have the potential to be match winners, is just brilliant for the club.

I want to thank the club for the opportunity to be part of Sussex over the last three seasons. I’ve really enjoyed working with the captains who have both done fantastic jobs, players, the coaching and medical staff (who I personally learnt a lot from), the office staff and groundstaff - there are lots of very good people at the club.

I’d like to thank Bob Warren and the performance committee for all their support during some challenging times.

Finally, I’d like to thank Rob Andrew and Keith Greenfield for all their support. They have been fantastic and I’ve been very grateful.

The game has, and is, facing very challenging times; however with the leadership in place, the club is well placed to navigate these choppy waters.

I wish the club well for the future.”