Sussex captain Ben Brown is demanding a big push from his bowlers as they look to close the gap on the County Championship division two leaders this week.
Brown leads his side into Specsavers County Championship action against Glamorgan at Hove from Monday satisfied with some aspects of their performance against Northamptonshire last week, not least the brilliant hundreds by him and Chris Jordan which transformed the game after Sussex had been 68 for six on the first morning.
In the end, they could not take the four wickets in the last 30 overs which would have earned them their second win of the season.
Pakistan’s Mir Hamza bowled outstandingly, and now has 12 wickets from three games, but Brown admitted the rest of the attack struggled to follow his lead.
“I felt we weren’t on it as a group with the ball at Northampton and we didn’t give him enough support,” said Brown. “Mir swung the ball enough to cause them problems, he was the most likely threat.
“We’re a bit disappointed because we tried everything but ultimately our skill with the ball wasn’t quite there and the other bowlers didn’t group enough balls in the right areas like Hamza did to get us the result.”
As well as Jordan and Brown with their first-innings tons, Phil Salt scored a hundred in the second innings but the memory of that terrible first session when the top order struggled should act as a wake-up call according to Brown.
“Being 68 for six on the first day was not good enough,” he added. “We have to play the moving ball better. We just can’t get rolled over every time the ball does a bit. There were some good performances but there are areas to improve.”
Sussex are now in their busiest period of the season with six consecutive Championship games, four of which are at home, and with that workload ahead of them Brown is anxious to have a few more bowling options to call upon.
Ollie Robinson tested his injured shoulder by bowling seven overs in the Kent League for Bickley Park last weekend, but Brown says his return to county action is a week or so away.
A comeback at Lord's against Middlesex on June 2 seems possible.
Left-armer George Garton is out for a longer spell because of a side injury. With Jofra Archer now with the England World Cup squad Sussex’s options are stretched and Jared Warner, signed on loan from Yorkshire last week, could get his chance against Glamorgan.
“The injuries are a concern,” admitted Brown. “We are not at full strength, there is a lot of cricket coming up and we don’t have huge resources at the moment.”
The Welsh county enjoyed a two-wicket win over Derbyshire last week but they have won just once at Hove in the Championship since 1966 and that was 44 years ago, a dismal record Sussex will want to extend as they try to trim the seven-point gap between themselves and Gloucestershire, who occupy the third promotion spot at this admittedly early stage of the season.
In the corresponding fixture last season they routed Glamorgan inside two days, bowling them out for 85 and 88. Unfortunately, Archer and Robinson – who shared 12 of the wickets to fall – will not be around next week. As well as Hamza, others will need to step up to the plate.