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ASK ROBBO: The answers.. Part Two!


We recently invited Sussex supporters to pose a question to Professional Cricket Manager Mark Robinson ahead of the new campaign which will soon be upon us.

Thank you to all those who submitted a question. Here is the second part of our Q&A...

Do you feel you have the ideal model for your coaching staff? Some teams have specialist bowling coaches or even batting coaches. Would you want these in an ideal world? In addition, what are the main duties and your expectations of your coaching staff, as I have always found this tricky to grasp as a mere fan! Simon Stewart AKA Sweatysock

We have budget restraints which means we have to make the best of the resources we have. What I do know is that in Keith Greenfield, Mark Davis and Carl Hopkinson we have three driven, knowledgeable, dedicated and skilful coaches.

We use Les Lenham as an extra coach in and around the Pro Squad during the summer and Tony Cottey when we can steal him from the Marketing Team! In a perfect world we would employ a specialist wicket-keeping coach, and possibly with all the science that goes into the fast bowling side somebody more dedicated to that area would be useful. Keith is mainly accountable for the Academy and the Youth Squads, but will also work with all the professionals within the squad when his own programme permits or at deliberately scheduled times.

Carl Hopkinson, in the summer, is responsible for the running and development of the second team, but again will cross over into the first team and Academy again when his programme permits or at deliberately scheduled times.

Mark Davis in the summer is primarily responsible for the coaching of the first team, technically and physically and supporting myself where possible. He will also support Carl when the programme permits or again at scheduled times.

My responsibility is for the direction of professional cricket at Sussex CCC, and in the summer specifically the first team.

In the winter Carl and Mark are responsible for putting together the coaching programmes and the implementation of these for the players, with direction and support from myself. Carl and Mark are also expected to support Keith heavily during the winter in regard to the Academy and EPP (Emerging Players Programme). Again, I try to support Keith with my time as well as it is important that all the Coaches coach and understand our system from top to bottom.

All our coaches naturally coach all the skills of the game, batting, bowling, fielding etc. We feel they have all been in the game long enough, have been around many great players and been exposed to lots of learning through the ECB’s fantastic coach education programme to be able to comfortably coach any of the disciplines. There is a danger with specialist coaches that they can actually coach only their way, while the true skill of a coach is to see each player as an individual and try and bring out their individual strengths. Pete Moores, for example, was the best bowling coach I worked with and never got close to a first-class wicket. None of us rest on our laurels and constantly look to challenge ourselves and each other, and thrive on outside exposure to broaden our learning.

PS Much better question that last year Sweaty!

Where do you see Kirk Wernars and Chris Jordan contributing to the first team during the new season? John McGrath

Both are all-rounders and both have been guaranteed nothing in terms of automatic selection. Both players will have to fight and show they are worthy of gaining a place and then keeping it.

Chris Liddle has been our most successful and consistent pace bowler in the CB40 and t20 matches over the last couple of years. Do you see a role for him in the four day side?
John McGrath

The skills needed to play four day and one day cricket are at times very different. Chris, in one day cricket, has developed a very effective slower ball and useful Yorker which will obviously be less of an asset in four day cricket, where the ability to repeatedly bowl line and length is more crucial. Chris, though, has worked hard on his consistency for four-day cricket, and is itching for an opportunity. Again, this will be up to him to be in form at the right time and to seize any chance that might come along.

Last season we made a great signing in Steve Magoffin and with the great news of RHB coming back we seem to be putting together a side that should emulate last season and maybe go a step further and win the County Championship ? I do think though we miss a quality opening batsman. Are there any thoughts to add to our batting this year, especially now that Muzza has gone?
David Frost

We have obviously brought in Rory to play in place of Murray. Our opening partnerships statistically performed a lot better than they are given credit for, especially in what was a difficult summer for batsmen. We are mindful that we need to bat better in the first innings, but more importantly get back to the ability to go big when conditions are in favour of the batsmen which was an area we fell down on last year. For the record, Sussex’s opening partnership in the Championship averaged 39.77 which was second only in the division to Warwickshire’s 44.96.

You’ve said that over the past couple of seasons that the squad are still in a transition period following the retirement of senior players like James Kirtley and Robin Martin-Jenkins. With losing another senior figure like Murray Goodwin, are we still in transition and if so, for how long? Tim Price

If we go back to 2007 when Richard Montgomerie retired, every year since then we’ve seen some of our most experienced and best cricketers retire.

Off the top of my head, Grizzly and Mushy at the end of 2008, Lewry in 2009 and both Kirtley and RMJ finishing in 2010 and now Murray going at the end of 2012.

These were not only highly skilled and driven performers, but these were also players who drove the culture and the environment. So their departure not only left a hole in the team, but also took away with them a lot of “know how” and to steal a cliché, they were our cultural architects. In five years that is a lot of experienced people to leave any organisation.

I think we are closer than ever to getting back in terms of experience and knowledge to somewhere where we would like to be, but there are still a couple of stepping stones to be put in place in order to get back to where we aim to be.

I’d like to thank you for all your support for the coming season and I look forward to seeing you all down at Hove and speaking to as many of you as possible. If there is ever anything you’d like to ask then please don’t hesitate to do so. Here’s to a successful season – and some decent weather!

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