Jason Gillespie is putting his faith in his Sussex players to get their promotion bid back on track this week.
During his time in county cricket, first with Yorkshire and now at Hove, the Australian coach has tended to avoid kneejerk reactions to a loss and he’s not about to change that philosophy as Sussex prepare to take on Leicestershire at Hove on Tuesday in the Specsavers County Championship.
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After four successive wins, Sussex were beaten by Middlesex at Lord’s last week and that defeat, combined with Kent’s victory over Derbyshire, meant the teams swapped places behind leaders Warwickshire. Sussex are now nine points behind Kent in third and both teams have four games left with Kent entertaining Northamptonshire this week.
It’s likely Sussex will go into the game with an unchanged team and the backing of their coach to get back on track.
Gillespie said: “I don’t like changing teams too much and I’m not a fan of reacting to a loss with a lot of different personnel. Last week was disappointing but we have to move on.
“No one likes to lose but the lads played some remarkably good Championship cricket to win the previous four games. We were disappointed that it didn’t quite go to plan against Middlesex last week at Lord’s but I still think we are playing good four-day cricket.”
While Gillespie will show faith in his players, he has made them aware that they need to improve in certain areas.
Sussex didn’t put together a stand in either innings worth more than 30 runs although the Hove wicket is likely to be a bit less treacherous than a surface that Middlesex captain Dawid Malan claimed was the worst he’d ever batted on at Lord’s.
Instead, Sussex are likely to encounter a pitch with good pace and carry to suit their seam attack. What Sussex can control is the number of extras they concede. Last week they gave away 67 runs in sundries which proved crucial in a low-scoring game.
“We know the areas we can sharpen up on. We conceded too many extras last week and only had two partnerships of 30 runs or more,” added Gillespie. “That’s not good enough but I’m sure we will learn quickly.”
The sides drew at Grace Road earlier in the season and Gillespie rates Leicestershire as “dangerous” opponents. Pakistan seamer Mohammad Abbas, who has taken 35 wickets at 18.14 in just seven games, is certainly someone Sussex need to watch.
Sussex finish with trips to Durham and Northamptonshire either side of a home finale against Warwickshire. There is also the small matter of Vitality Blast Finals Day on September 15 to look forward to as well.
“It’s exciting,” said Gillespie. “Look, we can only control our own destiny so we have to learn from our mistakes and improve for what I’m sure will be a tough game against Leicestershire.”