Moores hails champions
Peter Moores had his own message of congratulations ready for the moment his old Sussex charges clinched another county title.
Sussex’s innings-and-245-run Liverpool Victoria County Championship victory over Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on Friday ensured they outdo Lancashire to win the title for the second time in four years.
Moores was coach when that maiden title was registered in 2003 and - on television summariser duties - witnessed this follow-up too, overseen by his successor Mark Robinson.
“You’ve just got to say ‘well done, lads’. They deserve this - it has been well-earned,” said Moores, who left Sussex 12 months ago to take up his current job as the England and Wales Cricket Board’s National Academy Director.
Sussex have been the dominant team of the 21st century so far - constantly in the reckoning at the right end of the Division One table since struggling in their debut top-flight season of 2002.
They have also been competitive on the limited-overs front, culminating last month in a Lord’s final victory over Lancashire in the C&G Trophy.
Central to their success has been spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, who took 103 championship wickets in 2003 and 102 this time around after claiming his best-ever figures of 9-48 in the second innings at Trent Bridge.
Moores stresses, however, there is much more to Sussex than Mushtaq.
They have a clutch of other star players, such as prolific run-scorer Murray Goodwin, Pakistani pace bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and captain Chris Adams.
Yet, it is the contribution of the team as a whole which has been key, according to Moores.
“Sussex have built up momentum from the time when we were promoted - and they have competed on all fronts, in all the different forms of the game,” he said.
“This is great credit to the players - all of them - because everyone in the team has at more than one point in the season made a contribution to help win a match.
“Yes, there is Mushtaq and Murray - and it is important to any team to have big players.
“But it takes a team effort and the right mentality and atmosphere to make sure you get the best out of everyone.”
Sussex’s presence at or near the top of the table has become habitual under Adams - and it seems to be a case of success breeding success.
Young players have come into the side this season - batsman Chris Nash and off-spinner Ollie Rayner - and opener Carl Hopkinson has established himself.
Perhaps the most notable, though, is number three Mike Yardy, who has allied economical left-arm spin to his frontline batting - a package which won him an England call-up in this summer’s NatWest Series against Pakistan.
That development is of interest to Moores, both in his Sussex and England guises.
“Players continue to progress at Sussex - which is very rewarding,” he said.
“But, at the same time, they are highly-competitive at all levels. They realise a point in the first match of the championship is as important as one in the last when it comes to winning the title.
“They have done it brilliantly this season.”