January 2023 News
Updated: Mar 16
The December lunch
was by all accounts and reports a highly successful event, both the meal and newly appointed Sussex head coach Paul Farbrace’s talk. Our Vice Chair Ivor Evans thought that “he was one of the best speakers we have had in an age, with reminiscences laced with humour and interest. I came away thinking that that the future for Sussex cricket was bright.” Comments from other members agreed. Ivor has provided a fairly comprehensive account of Paul’s talk and this appeared in the January newsletter.
Also at this lunch Adrian Harms the BBC Sussex Cricket Correspondent, was presented with the ECB Domestic Broadcaster of the Year award. This is the 11th year of the award which is judged by a panel of journalists and broadcasters, an honour for Adrian as the award is named after Christopher Martin-Jenkins who contributed so much to cricket, not least in Sussex. The award was due to be presented during the season, but clashes of appointments delayed the presentation. Jon Filby, Chair Sussex Cricket, knowing that Adrian was attending the lunch was pleased to present the award which reflects Adrian’s’ manner combining real warmth in his commentary, a good facility for language along with his knowledge of the players and their stories, these are deemed key for a county cricket commentator. I feel that one of his strengths is also the rapport he has built up with listeners encouraging and responding to their input.
Luke Wright has announced his retirement from professional cricket, at least as a player. He will be taking up a roll with ECB as a national selector. I'm sure most members, if not all, would wish to thank Luke for his performances for Sussex and wish well in the new role. His experience of recent County Cricket should stand him in good stead in this new role. England Young Lions (Male Under19s as was) announced a 22 person man advanced training group under the guidance of Michael Yardy in preparation for their tour to Australia early in 2023, and then for a return tour by Australia under 19s to England in 2023 which will include 2 ODI’s at Hove at the beginning of September. Four Sussex players, Dan Ibrahim. Archie Lenham, wicket keeper batter Charlie Tier plus all-rounder (off spinner and batter) Bertie Foreman are all included in the advanced group from which the tour party will be chosen. Good luck to all four talented and very promising young cricketers.
Then to the main piece of the afternoon.
Our Chairman, David Bowden introduced Paul Farbrace our speaker. When Paul was booked for the lunch, what no one knew was that by the time of this event, Paul would be Sussex Head Coach. David highlighted Paul’s career as both player – wicketkeeper/batsman starting at Kent before moving on to Middlesex.
He has coached various counties and countries including Kent, Yorkshire Warwickshire, Sri Lanka, and England. Paul could not help beginning by gently admonishing our Chairman for overlooking one of Paul’s proudest achievements; his solitary first class wicket and what a wicket is was; bowling Graham Gooch at Lords when then ranked number one batsman in the World!
Paul is a Man of Kent, cricket was in his life from day one. His Dad played cricket as did his brothers. In time he was a junior member of the County Club. We heard that as a youngster football was a passion. He was on the books at Coventry City, but the time came when called in by Manager Bobby Gould, to be told that he was missing two of the attributes to progress, height and ability. From there-on it was cricket.
Paul’s absolute cricket hero was Derek Underwood and he is extremely proud to played with Derek in one of his last games – 1987, NatWest Trophy, Scotland v Kent when Underwood took 8 wickets. Following his playing days, Paul coached football (a surprise to many) and two Sussex greats: Luke Wright at under 19 level and Claire Connor, National Women’s Team. Paul told us that coaching today had fundamentally changed, and for the better. He reflected on his time as a player at Kent where their coach was fiery and could have a temper.
After one game he went around the changing room individually highlighting each player’s fault. Paul was prepared. The coach said he could not comment as he did not know much about wicketkeeping!
Today, Paul feels, the most important thing in coaching is knowing the player at whatever stage in their careers. Players you need to talk to, encourage and support to keep players enjoying the game. You must try and be constructive. Players can be very sensitive to criticism, if overdone it does not help them, the team or the squad. Paul gave a few examples: Jos Buttler, rang him whilst playing in his first IPL season and asked whether he had watched the games to which he received an affirmative reply. He was finding it tough going. Paul told Jos his shoulders were down. A few words of encouragement and Jos went on to have a great series.
Then on a tour in Australia, Paul’s role was to collaborate with the players who were playing in the game before the first Test. One of those being Stuart Broad. Getting a ‘well done’ from Paul meant a great deal as Broad commented that it was the first he’d received and it meant a lot to him. Paul talked about his time working with Sri Lanka with Trevor Bayliss where selection meetings could be interesting, for instance once the committee decided to bring in two younger players at the expense of two nearly forty-year-olds.
The next day in the car, Trevor and Paul were surprised to hear that one of the older players was in the squad. Apparently, the Minister of Sport had to give his approval. The following day, reading the paper, the second ageing player was back in the squad, this time at the behest of the President – if the Minister of Sport could pick a player, so could he! Then an occasion with Muttiah Muralitharan. One of his benchmarks was that he did not want to go for more than four runs an over. After one game, Paul suggested that he bowled a tad straight. Murali was not altogether impressed by this suggestion. The next day Murali asked Paul to come to the ground where for the next forty five minutes no words were spoken while Murali bowled at a stump. Paul then suggested that Murali bowl at the “fourth stump". Again, another forty minutes of bowling, no words spoken, just Paul throwing balls back. An example of a great player dedicated to his craft and continuing to evolve and develop.
Paul went on to talk about his time working with England saying how important the relationship is between coach and captain. One of them needs to be the ‘front man.’ He thoroughly enjoyed his time collaborating with Peter Moores. Also, the relationship between Moores and Alistair Cook was outstanding. Cook was happy to let Moores manage the media and suchlike. However, the relationship between Cook and Trevor Bayliss was less so as neither were overly comfortable in up-front management. Paul expressed his utmost admiration for Eoin Morgan, not only what he brought to the team as a player but more so for his captaincy; recognising the potential in players, citing Jason Roy as one example. He set the template encouraging players to go out and play with freedom and show what they can do without fear of criticism. ‘Living it and doing it’ was an oft quoted phrase in the England Team. Much of the success of winning the 50 overs 2019 World Cup was due to Morgan’s outstanding leadership and man management skills.
These leadership qualities were also key to England also winning the 2022 20 overs World Cup, Ben Stokes had learnt and observed from Morgan. Paul is an enthusiastic supporter of four-day County Cricket. He believes it to be in a far better shape than some may postulate. He thought it incredulous that anyone could think of reducing the County Championship ten games a season. It was obvious to many but overlooked by some that a strong England Test team first starts by players learning their craft at County level.
Paul takes up his role at Sussex in February 2023 and said he cannot wait to start.