Defiant Kirtley: Beaten Sussex Sharks will return for more Blast big days
Head coach James Kirtley reckons this isn’t Sussex Sharks’ last hurrah at Finals Day despite losing key players this winter, writes Alex Smith.
The Sharks have enjoyed a bumper era in the Vitality Blast having progressed from the South Group in each of the last four campaigns – while finishing runners-up in 2018.
Opening batter Phil Salt and key fast bowler Chris Jordan will both depart the county at the end of the season – with Saturday’s semi-final defeat to Kent Spitfires their last matches for the club.
But Kirtley insists that more T20 success will follow. When asked if he could see Sussex returning to this stage he said: “Without doubt. I can see us being able to bolster in a couple of areas. The scheduling will help us as well if it is in one block.
“We need to look at the squad as a whole properly. They are two big holes to fill. There aren’t many batter-keepers available or someone with the skills of CJ.
“They are hard people to replace. So there is a balance to find from the English qualified players and then look for overseas options. We will delve into that in good detail when we have got over this match and the game against Derbyshire next week.”
George Garton underlined his all-round talent in the 21-run defeat with impressive figures of two for 24 before smashing a 23-ball 41.
The left-arm speedsters now jets off for the IPL and Kirtley believes the club’s cultivation has boosted his career.
He said: “We have nurtured him. George has benefited from that. We back him. We batted him at four in the Championship match a couple of weeks back and we back his all-round talent. I wish him well in the IPL.”
On the defeat he added: “Clearly we put ourselves under from the start and while we wrestled it back well we never really got ahead of the game at any point.”
Kent captain Daniel Bell-Drummond scored a vital 81. He said: “It was a great semi-final from us and it was good to get runs on the board and then bowled brilliantly to defend that score.
“It was a complete performance other than a little wobble in the middle. Hopefully we can continue it into the final.”