Paul Farbrace positive about Sussex rebuild: ‘I’ve come here to win’

The seagulls perched on Hove’s sun loungers are the essence of county cricket, but there hasn’t been much to squawk on the south coast lately. Sussex won three County Championship titles and four major white-ball trophies between 2003 and 2009, but have endured one of the more tumultuous spells in their 183-year history in the last three years.

Austerity policies prompted by Covid financial challenges led to an exodus of senior players and results suffered, with three first-class wins in three summers. With a team that is of different sizes, they have used more players (53) than any other country in that time and a run-up to the semi-finals of last year’s Royal London Cup couldn’t mask a sense of drift.

Things had come to a head by the end of the 2022 season. Championship and 50-over side coach Ian Salisbury left his role after an off-field dispute with Jack Carson, the promising young spinner, and the club informed James Kirtley, who had been in charge of the club for two years T20 Squad. , that they would advertise a new head coach to take them through various formats.

For some time it seemed that the race for the track was between Ryan Campbell, the Netherlands’ outgoing coach, and Grant Flower, the club’s highly regarded hitting coach. Campbell was offered the job, but when he turned it down and went to Durham instead, Paul Farbrace emerged as a candidate after stepping down as Warwickshire’s director of cricket.

After several interviews, he applied for the position and was appointed last week. Farbrace has been given full responsibility for men’s cricket. Keith Greenfield, the club’s long-serving performance director, has been sidelined to a breakthrough position.

Farbrace has spoken to several franchise teams and counties since leaving Edgbaston in September and he retains a two-year contract with Sharjah Warriors in the ILT20, but said at his unveiling in Hove on Tuesday that he relishes the chance to see a talented crop of young players flourish , with the ultimate goal of bringing tangible success back to the club.

“The idea of ​​really being tied into a project appealed to me,” he said. “There’s an expectation when you have so many talented young players. Will we be able to get the best out of them? There’s a nervous excitement. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be involved and lead the club to success.”

Rob Andrew, Sussex’s CEO, is not widely popular with supporters, but defended the club’s recent decision-making, saying he was “absolutely delighted” with Farbrace’s appointment. “We’ve had some challenging years for various reasons,” he said, “but we’ve always felt that the decisions we made were the right ones for the club in the long run.

“People sometimes forget how difficult the last three years have been. We saw an opportunity a few years ago to protect the club financially and… to build something really special with a group of players who grew up together. worked under difficult circumstances to get us to this point. It’s been tough. I’ve recognized that all along. The excitement we can build in the future, I hope people can see that.”

Along with Carson, Tom Haines was part of the England Lions training squad last month, while four others are in the UAE with Under-19s, but Farbrace emphasized his view that the club’s ambitions should not be limited to developing young players. “I won’t apologize for talking about winning every chance I can,” he said.

“I came here to win: I love winning and I hate losing. It’s easy to talk about competition, development and young players and to make excuses; to hide behind ‘they need time ‘ and all that stuff. There’s enough skill in this team to rise to the challenge of winning cricket matches and winning trophies, and that’s what we’re here for.”

Sussex have already signed Cheteshwar Pujara – who should be available for most of the season after opting out of the IPL auction – for Championship and 50-over cricket, while Jayden Seales is under contract for the first three months. A second foreign player for the Blast will be one of Farbrace’s first priorities, as will those who are out of contract at the end of 2023 to sign extensions.

Farbrace has previously applied for one of the vacant head coaching positions in the Hundred, but confirmed he would spend August at Hove rather than work as an assistant coach elsewhere. “I will be involved with the Over-50s team,” he said. “It takes a lot of hold, but I think it’s a brilliant match.”

Luke Wright, who announced his retirement last month to take on a new role as an England selector, is the latest senior player to leave, but Farbrace hopes players like Ollie Robinson, Tom Alsop, George Garton and Steven Finn as leaders can act. different formats, while Tymal Mills and Ravi Bopara fill similar roles in the T20 side.

“We have to make sure we have the right senior players and foreign players around,” he said. “Players learn from players. It is our job as coaches to facilitate that learning. If you have really good senior players around the youngsters, you will make their development grow even faster. The potential is huge.”

“Around any successful team, your senior players play a key role. The danger of having a lot of good young players is that they know they’re playing and there’s no competition to get into the team. You have senior players around to them and really depend on the coaches to do that.”

Major redevelopments are taking place in Hove, and luxury apartments are being built on the southwest corner of the site. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the club has made small gains over the past three years, and Andrew said they are well placed to cope with the UK’s ongoing wave of inflation.

“We’re in a really good, solid financial position,” he said. “In some ways I’m even happier that we made the decisions we made two or three years ago, knowing what we know now and what we’re likely to face. We’re very positive about the future of this club .” We want everyone in the club to be excited: some patience has been needed in recent years and sports supporters don’t necessarily have much of that. But I think we can see a way forward.”

When asked about his message to Sussex supporters, Andrew said: “Be positive, if you are true fans of this club.” Those who have kept faith through the gloom will hope that Farbrace’s appointment gives them cause to do so.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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