Sussex skipper Ben Brown says the players are devastated to miss out on promotion to the top division of the county championship.
Sussex appeared to be timing their run into the top three nicely after wins over Middlesex and Gloucestershire, but an abject performance in two sessions on the second day at Derby, when their attack leaked more than five runs an over, undid all the good work and left skipper Brown hugely frustrated.
With only one team going up next season and counties such as Nottinghamshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire among their rivals in the new eight-team Division Two, that wait for a top-flight return could still be some way off.
“Four-day cricket takes a lot of heart and courage but ultimately it’s about skill and over the season our skill levels haven’t been good enough on a consistent basis,” said Brown.
“The guys are devastated. Supporters get hugely frustrated and that’s fair enough but in the last two years I can’t fault the commitment and energy of the guys. It isn’t through a lack of effort that we’ve not gained promotion. It’s a game of skill – particularly top-order batting - and we just haven’t been good enough.”
Having recruited bowlers from overseas for the last two seasons, Sussex are expected to focus on strengthening their top order this winter but there is no major overhaul of the squad planned.
Mitch Claydon has been recruited from Kent and will add experience to the seam attack, but Abi Sakande has been released so he can look for opportunities to progress his career elsewhere.
They end their season with a home game against Worcestershire, starting Monday.