Sussex go into their last two championship fixtures of the season, away to Durham on Tuesday and at home to Notts the following week, with a hollow sensation of anti-climax.
Their promotion ambitions were badly dented when they were made to follow on and ultimately heavily defeated by rivals Northants at the beginning of the month. And then their faltering hopes were extinguished by defeat at home to Derbyshire. It was that county’s first red ball victory of the season - their only previous win coming in a day-night affair at Cardiff.
But Durham and Notts just might be disappointed. Sussex captain Ben Brown had a frank discussion with his players after the Derbyshire defeat and will be looking for a reaction from his team. Brown said: “It’s not good enough to keep repeating the mistakes. It’s hugely frustrating for myself and all the players. It’s not good enough to be honest. And we have to put it right. It’s no good just speaking about it and nothing happening.”
Brown was a study in abject dejection after the Derbyshire result, which was not helped by him having a poor game personally. “I feel hugely disappointed,” he said. “To be honest we lost that game in the first two days. I felt we bowled and batted poorly in the first two innings. And you can’t always claw it back. I don’t regret the decision to bowl first. I would do the same again. The best time to bowl was on the first morning. The wicket had a bit in it. And we didn’t use that time at all well.
“We didn’t put enough balls in good areas when we really had a chance to. And then we didn’t go big when we batted. I thought we could have gone huge in our first innings and put together a score of 400 or 500 plus. But we didn’t take it. And you can’t always claw it back. I thought we played some good cricket on the last two days and I thought we could have chased down those runs, after setting it up nicely.”
Brown added: “There has to be some reason why we are not getting over the line in all three formats. In terms of winning key moments, you have to look at the season and say we haven’t done that in general, both with bat and ball. We have fallen short in the three competitions and we have to look at the reasons why.
“We have to look at key moments in key matches that, for whatever reason, we have lost. We have had had a pretty honest chat in the dressing room of how we have got to go forward and get better.”