'The best thing is honest assessment,' Sussex coach Jason Gillespie reflects on defeats

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Head Coach Jason Gillespie says rest and reflection rather than more practice can help Sussex recover from successive defeats that have damaged their Specsavers County Championship promotion prospects.

A fortnight ago the county were settled in the promotion places in Division Two with every prospect of strengthening their position ahead of home games against Durham and Northamptonshire.

They are still third despite two dispiriting defeats – the second by a record 393 runs against Northants – but all the teams below them have at least one game in hand, and in the case of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire two.

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Former Yorkshire coach Gillespie has seen it all before during his career in English cricket and insists there is no need to panic.

“We’ve had a couple of bad weeks where we haven’t played to the levels that we know we are capable of,” he said.

“There’s no hiding from the fact that the Northants performance – while taking nothing away from how well they played – was not good enough.

“I know our supporters are disappointed but so are the lads and I’m not sure we would gain anything by more nets or practice at this stage. Since Tuesday they have gone away for a couple of days to rest and recuperate because the schedule in recent weeks has been pretty relentless.

“The best thing is honest assessment, individually and collective, and then for them to come back fresh and ready for the next challenge. We’ll be there for them and we will back them.”

Sussex begin a four-day match against Australia A at Arundel on Sunday.

The likes of skipper Ben Brown and Ollie Robinson, whose ten-wicket haul offered some consolation in the defeat to Northants, will be rested. Stiaan van Zyl, who missed the game because of tennis elbow, and Chris Jordan, who is recovering from tonsillitis, are unlikely to be risked.

But Gillespie says there is a good chance Mir Hamza, who has missed four games with a back problem, will face the touring team.

“We are going to take the chance to rest a couple of the lads,” said Gillespie. “But it’s still a good fixture and for those who do play it is an opportunity to play against some Test cricketers.”

The signing of former England one-day international Reece Topley until the end of the season has been made primarily with the forthcoming Vitality Blast campaign in mind.

Topley has been training with Sussex since the start of the season and is fully fit after back problems blighted his career with previous counties Essex and Hampshire.

The left-armer has played ten ODIs and six IT20s for England. In 34 first-class matches he has taken 127 wickets, 83 wickets in 62 T20s and 93 wickets in 55 List A games so there is no doubting his pedigree, and what he can offer if he stays fit.

“It’s been a long time out rehabbing, so if I can make it through to the end of the season fit and having contributed to the team and then work hard during the off-season so I am at my best for the start of next summer I’ll be thrilled,” Topley said.

“I’m so grateful to Sussex for the use of all the facilities and personnel over the last few months. The ‘can do’ attitude around the place has been incredible and has surpassed any expectations I had.”