Sussex sweep up Gloucestershire – Farbrace reflects on what might have been
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After a peerless second innings of 505-7 declared the previous day, Sussex continued to exert pressure and press home an overnight lead of 399 runs.
Their bowling line-up, without overseas player Jaydev Unadkat or top wicket-taker Ari Karvelas, then went on to impress even further, with the soon-to-be out-of-contract Brad Currie making his case for a new deal.
Currie took the early wickets of Zafar Gohar and Matt Taylor in the third over of the day, finding edges through to wicketkeeper Oli Carter and Tom Clark.
Spinner Jack Carson then secured his 30th Championship wicket of the season by having Josh Shaw caught on the long off boundary by Fynn Hudson-Prentice, signalling that a day of beautiful sunshine in Hove would not see too much cricket.
Indeed, with Ed Middleton injured for visitors Gloucestershire, Zaman Akhter then emerged as the only wicket left for Sussex to take in the 2023 season.
That they soon did, with Carson finishing matters after just 45 minutes of the day by pinning Akhter LBW when he attempted a reverse sweep.
Gloucestershire, with captain Graeme van Buuren stranded on 67 from 74 balls, were subsequently 173 all out and Sussex the victors by a magnificent 339 runs, one of their largest margins of victory by runs since beating the same opponents by 470 runs back in 1913.
It capped a brilliant four days for Sussex in which James Coles’ knock of 128, half-centuries for six more players and match figures of 6-53 for Currie and 6-94 for Sean Hunt all delighted the Hove crowd. Not only that, but the performance also gave head coach Paul Farbrace several reasons to be cheerful ahead of the winter break.
Farbrace said: “The great thing about the win is that so many people contributed. It’s all of our talented young players sticking their hands up.
“There’s been a lot said in the last weeks that there’s some [players] that we’re backing and that we need to put a few senior players around them, and perhaps that spurred one or two on to their performances over the last four days.”
As results elsewhere confirmed that Sussex would finish third in the LV= County Championship Division Two this season, the impact of having 17 points deducted this season – including 12 in a temperamental win over Leicestershire – became clearer.
“It proves to me that I was right all along, that it was the right thing to do to talk about trying to get promotion,” said Farbrace.
“The best two teams have been promoted [Durham and Worcestershire] but it confirms to me that it was the right attitude to try to get promoted.
“The 17 points [came] through naïve behaviour, so we’ve learned some lessons over the course of this summer.”
With several players breaking personal barriers during the final match and making up for the absence of senior figures, Farbrace was delighted with the outcomes.
“The key for us is that is gives a lot of people a lot of confidence,” said Farbrace. “Ali Orr, to finish that way and get runs, and Tom Clark, I think the last two games he’s played have been his best for the club.
“Coles finished with another hundred, and I think Sean Hunt [had] his best game by a country mile. I think that’s something that quite a few of our players can take from the last game into the winter that will help them build confidence, knowing that they can play First-Class cricket and they can contribute to winning games.”
Sussex also announced early in the day that England seamer Ollie Robinson had signed a one-year contract extension at Hove. It was key news for the club, and Farbrace praised the announcement.
“I hope that at the start of next season, when England don’t have Test matches, he’ll be made available to play with us,” Farbrace said. “We’re pleased that him and Jofra [Archer] have both committed to one more year in terms of extensions, and it makes sense for the club that if you’ve got players on central contracts there is no point extending longer than one year at a time.”
Elsewhere, Farbrace discussed Brad Currie’s contract situation. “Brad knows exactly where we’re at and I hope that in the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to announce exactly what that is. He’s someone who loves proving me wrong, and there will be something on him in the next couple of weeks.”
With Chris Wright also not joining the club for 2024 now, Farbrace confirmed that the club are looking at alternative options for experienced seamers, with Jack Brooks, Toby Roland-Jones and Jake Ball among those potentially available.
Farbrace said that while he did not have any contact with Roland-Jones, the other two were on his radar. “Two out of [those] three, [we have] not had discussions but thoughts about them. Wright is a real shame because we identified him very early and I’ve known him for a very long time.
“It happens, family situations change. We’ve done absolutely the right thing in allowing him to hopefully stay at Leicestershire, which I think will come out shortly. Those sorts of names are the sort of people we’re definitely looking at and hopefully we can bring in someone who can help us.”