Sussex have confirmed the departure of their head coach, Mark Davis. While the club insisted the decision was reached by "mutual consent", it is clear Davis paid the price for Sussex's failure to achieve Championship promotion and an over-reliance upon imported players. It is also understood that Davis lost the confidence of some senior figures in the dressing room.
Sussex are now expected to hold a thorough recruitment process to appoint a successor. Chris Adams, captain during their three County Championship triumphs in the 2000s, is certain to be a strong candidate for the role with a possibility that he might be able to coax former team-mate Matt Prior back to the game in some sort of part-time, back-room role. Prior retired in 2015 due to injury and has subsequently moved into cycling as the co-owner and chief executive of One Pro Cycling.
Confirmation of Davis' departure comes a day after long-serving batsman Chris Nash was released and Rob Andrew, Sussex's chief executive, said it was time to try and take the club in a new direction.
"After reviewing a disappointing season for the first team, it was concluded that action needed to be taken in order to build for the future," Andrew said. "The difficult decisions to part company with Mark by mutual consent and to agree to Chris' request to be released from his contract were part of that action, but at its core were moves to solidify the foundations of a squad that has the potential to achieve great things in the coming years.
"As such, a number of players have been offered and have signed new or extended contracts over recent weeks, and more are set to follow. This means we now have a stable and balanced squad made up of a mix of youth and experience that offers real strength across all disciplines."
Whoever is appointed is likely to be expected to show much greater faith in home-grown talent than was the case in 2017. While the club have enjoyed some success at age-group level in recent seasons, there were times last season when four or five of the team was made up of players ineligible for England - including Kolpak signings Stiaan van Zyl and David Wiese - which inevitably limited the opportunities for younger players.
"I strongly believe that when a new head coach is appointed, they will have the raw materials with which to build a trophy-winning side," Andrew said. "We are continuing to work on our four-year strategic plan for the wider organisation and there will be further news on this in due course.
"A major part of that strategy will be the on-going development of home-grown Sussex players by our Performance Department. This work will continue the well-established trend of Sussex-bred bowlers and batsmen making their mark in the 1st XI."
Davis' departure ends a long and generally happy association with Sussex. First as a player (he was part of the squad that won the County Championship for the first time in the club's history in 2003) and then as a coach - he started as 2nd XI coach before being appointed head coach in 2015 - he has been associated with the club for 17 years.
In a statement released by the club, Davis said: "I have established a very strong squad including Jofra Archer, Stiaan van Zyl and Laurie Evans and given opportunity to a number of young players who will no doubt achieve great things in the future.
"The professional squad is very well set for the challenges ahead and I am confident these players will bring silverware to the club. I would like to thank all the players, support staff and coaches who supported me, as well as all the faithful Sussex supporters".