Ben Brown believes the relegated big two could in for a rude awakening in the Championship this season.

As far as Sussex are concerned, the sooner the better.

Sussex open their Specsavers County Championship division two campaign at Edgbaston today against a Warwickshire side aiming to bounce straight back to the top tier.

The arrival of Jason Gillespie as head coach has helped make sure Sussex are mentioned in most conversations about who might go up this season.

But the favourites with most people, including the bookies, are Middlesex after they went down partly because of a crossbow-related points deduction.

Neither Gillespie nor his skipper Brown tend to talk directly about promotion.

It is more about general progress and improvement and seeing where that takes them.

Sussex will need to improve on last term’s sluggish start to give themselves a serious chance.

But Brown knows how tough the second division can be - and he wonders whether it might catch today’s opponents out.

He told The Argus: “Always we want to be promoted.

“I think it is an extremely competitive division.

“Looking at who has come down, it’s tough. Those clubs will find out like we have that it’s not as straightforward as thinking you go straight back up.

The Argus:

Sussex plan to make life tough at Edgbaston

“I, for one, am excited to go and play Warwickshire in the first game.

“I think all the pressure is on them.

“They will be coming back to division two and their supporters and everyone will be saying, ‘let’s go and wipe the floor with this division and get back up’.

“It just doesn’t tend to work like that.

“I am really excited to go and be an underdog against Warwickshire and try and cause an upset.”

There are question marks over this new-look Sussex set-up.

Some are asked in an upbeat, excited tone of voice.

How far can Gillespie take this team, not least their young band of exciting bowlers?

Can he do what he did with second tier Yorkshire?

How will those bowlers develop? What is the limit, if there is one, for Jofra Archer?

Will Stiaan van Zyl build on prolific recent weeks in South Africa and a quietly solid debut Sussex campaign by really coming to the fore?

And how will Luke Wells build on a 2017 season in which he gave top batsmen in the division up to a four innings head start and still ended up as leading run scorer.

Other questions will be asked with a note of caution, possibly even concern, in the voice.

Can Sussex replace Chris Nash, who headed off to Notts in the winter?

Will the early-season absence of Archer and Chris Jordan leave them as far off the pace as they were after four games last term?

The Argus:

And will Ishant Sharma, experienced and high-class performer as he is, hit the ground running in springtime English conditions while the IPL duo and George Garton are ruled out?

Brown is excited to see how all those are answered as Sussex bring in a big-name coach from outside the club for the first time since Des Haynes took over 22 years ago.

He sees it as a chance for the county to sharpen up their act.

Brown said: “We need to improve the way we go about things in a general sense. With so much turnover in coaches and players we have got a chance now to start again and really set out how the club wants to be viewed and how we want to behave.

“That’s something that is really fresh.

“We have been coached in one way and there are many styles to coaching all around the world.

“That is no disrespect to anyone but we have had a similar style for a long time.

“I think with Dizzy coming in, my immediate impression is he is a different style.

“He is a little bit more laidback, he puts more onus on players to lead the dressing room.

“I think that is an exciting responsibility for people.

“We want to get back to really respecting the club and the club respecting itself. That is the main priority now.”

Asked exactly what he meant by that, Brown added: “Things can slip. It is never one thing. It is easy for people to say ‘the culture has slipped’.

“But now we have people all around the world, playing IPL or Big Bash and the squad doesn’t come together all winter and all summer.

“You don’t have that time to build the rapport.

“No longer do you have nine homegrown players playing, although that that is a target and a goal.

“The reality, looking around other counties as well, is that players come from all around the world.

“Actually building a sense of team spirit and culture is not quite as easy as it was in the past.

“When I started at the club it was mainly about home-grown players and getting stuck in. It isn’t like that any more.

“With fresh ideas, different ideas, a different coach and different way of thinking, I think we can really start to form who we want to be as a squad and a team again, I guess from day zero.”