Sussex captain Ben Brown insists their season will be judged a success, even if it ends in disappointment.
Brown watched from the dugout on Saturday as Sussex lost in the final of the Vitality Blast to Worcestershire.
There wasn’t much he could do to affect events at Edgbaston but he will be back in the thick of the action tomorrow (Tuesday 18 September) when Sussex face Warwickshire in the first of two must-win Specsavers County Championship games.
Sussex have won five of their past seven matches in Division Two but it’s the damaging defeats to Middlesex and Durham during that sequence which have left them third in the table behind Warwickshire and Kent and playing catch-up.
The gap between Sussex and second-placed Kent is 21 points with Warwickshire a further 12 in front. At least Sussex know what they have to do – beat the leaders at Hove starting tomorrow and then win at Northamptonshire in the final round of fixtures. They could also do with Glamorgan doing them an unlikely favour by beating Kent at Canterbury this week.
With Warwickshire concluding their fixtures at home to Kent, there is still a chance that they could squeeze into the top two.
Brown said: “Whatever happens now, I think there has been huge progress this season.
“We were outplayed last week at Durham and I know people were disappointed, particularly with our batting, but it’s important to remember that we have a young top order who are still learning their trade.
“We know we have to get better against a strong Warwickshire side and we can’t let the result against Durham last week distract us but it’s definitely not all doom and gloom. There have been lots of positive and there is a lot to play for.”
A win or draw for Warwickshire will seal promotion this week which gives Sussex further incentive to beat the Bears and make sure they have something to play for when they face Kent at Edgbaston in the final round.
“Realistically, we have got to win them both,” said Brown. “I see playing Warwickshire as a huge plus for us. We know that if we beat them we are right back in the hunt because they play Kent in the last game and they can’t both win of course.
“There is some pressure of course but (head coach) Jason Gillespie will keep us nice and calm. We’ve got a pretty good record in four-day cricket at Hove this season and we need that to continue.”
Luke Wright is likely to return to the starting XI having been rested at Durham last week. He will probably replace Michael Burgess. The good news for Sussex is that they are unbeaten in the Championship at Hove this season and the Bears have won only once there since 2002.
Follow Bruce Talbot on Twitter @BruceTalbot1.