Sussex success in Salisbury's sights

Ian Salisbury is hoping for a new round of success with the club where it all began with a first-class debut in 1989.

Ian Salisbury, right, with fellow head coach James Krtley at Hove / Picture: Sussex Cricket
Ian Salisbury, right, with fellow head coach James Krtley at Hove / Picture: Sussex Cricket

The ex-England leg-spinner has become joint head coach of Sussex CCC alongside former teammate James Kirtley.

And for Salisbury, the role is about finding the next generation of English talent and in doing so, bringing success back to a club he holds dear.

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Since taking up the role last November, having previously worked as spin-bowling coach under Jason Gillespie, various forms of lockdown have restricted him to coaching from home.

Ian Salisbury in his playing days / Picture: Getty

Three months later, and finally, Salisbury, who played first-class cricket for Sussex, Surrey and Warwickshire, can make the journey to Hove.

Alongside Kirtley, he is determined to bring success.

“Me and James go back a long way. To be honest, he didn’t talk to me when I left [Sussex] to go to Surrey” he recalls, jokingly. “We reunited five years ago when I was coaching the spinners for England women and he was coaching the seamers.”

The two went on to work as part of the coaching set-up for England’s physical disability cricket team – and Salisbury admits their experience of working together in a variety of roles will be vital to their dynamic at Sussex.

They are tasked with developing the talented crop of youngsters Sussex have on their books. Salisbury has experience of this – as Surrey’s second XI coach, he presided over the likes of Jason Roy, Rory Burns, Stuart Meaker and Jade Dernbach, who all came through the ranks and into the international spotlight under his guidance.

There’s the chance to repeat that success at Sussex, then?

“Certainly” he explains. “We have a great opportunity to showcase the future. There’s going to be no second XI cricket going on [this year] and as there’s The Hundred we will lose a few players. The 50-over competition will give us a chance to play a lot of the younger players.”

Once again, trusting in youth will be the policy in Hove. Last summer, five teenagers made their first-class appearances for Sussex in the Bob Willis Trophy – more than half of the players involved were under-24, including James Coles, who made his first-team debut aged just 16.

But as a former leg-spinner, surely Salisbury has a desire to find the next young leggie? “Any spinner,” Salisbury interjects. “I have a huge passion for spin bowling in general. It’s a tough gig in this country – we want them to be brave, to make mistakes. We’re training these youngsters and we want them to play for England not just for Sussex.”

The current Sussex side has a few players knocking on the England door. Phil Salt has been in and around the England white-ball set-up for the past year, with Ollie Robinson is a reserve with the Test side in India.

“I want to see Ollie [Robinson] get picked for England. I want him to start the trend of Sussex players getting picked again. Obviously, we’ve got CJ [Chris Jordan] and Jof [Jofra Archer] but I want the new people to get picked.

“I want to see Salt get picked. I want to see Robinson get picked. Then I want to see whoever’s next. We’ve got a vested interest in youth and we want to bring the feelgood-factor back to Sussex.”

So, a few trophies soon? “Have patience with us,” he states. “Realistically we want to be competing in all trophies in five years but that doesn’t mean we won’t be trying to win everything we play in next year. We’ve just got to be realistic that sometimes experience takes time.”

The Kirtley-Salisbury revolution is a long-term plan but the latter is cautiously optimistic of their chances this summer.

A short anecdote about Alan Hansen’s infamous ‘you’ll win nothing with kids’ is followed by his own on the Sussex of now rather than the Manchester United players of the 90s.

“The naivety of youth can take you a long way,” Salisbury states, with a subtle, but welcoming confidence. “When we bring back success at Sussex, we want it to be sustained.”