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Family feud

There will be a new captain and coach at Hove next year, but how do Sussex become more ruthless on the field without sacrificing the club ethos? Bruce Talbot reports

I t has been a fixture on Sussex’s social media for a while now. Every tweet, Facebook message or Instagram post ends with #SussexFamily.

The phrase was coined by former coach Mark Robinson, long before social media existed. He thought it best summed up the ‘one for all, all for one’ culture established by Robinson’s predecessor, Peter Moores. “From Sam the gateman, who is the first person most people come into contact with when they visit Hove, all the way up to the chairman, we are a family,” Moores explained. “We look out for each other.”

Sussex no longer have the financial clout to compete for top players, nor can they offer first-division cricket

The problem with families is that sometimes they fall out, and at Sussex there is a history of blood-letting in public. Back in 1950 the club president, the Duke of Norfolk, stormed out of the annual meeting, followed by the committee, after a vote of no confidence at the decision to sack a popular captain in Hugh Bartlett. More famously, in 1997, the club’s hierarchy, including its chairman, chief executive and committee were branded “aloof, autocratic and arrogant” and swept away on a vote of no confidence following a winter during which five capped players had left. It took six years before Sussex won the first County Championship in their history, with plenty more casualties along the way, but that success and those that followed would not have happened had Robin Marlar, Tony Pigott and their allies not intervened.

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About The Cricketer Magazine

England’s greatest batsmen – we asked 27 experts to name their top 5, and collated the results. There are some fascinating choices! The superb Simon Barnes, with the best turn of phrase in sports journalism, on England’s year so far. The feisty Jarrod Kimber on the state of play in Australian cricket. The elegant and massively under-rated David Townsend on Adelaide Oval. A lovely piece on the greatness of Dennis Lillee, by Simon Hughes. A forensic look at the problems at Sussex, by the man in the know, Bruce Talbot.