Sussex are ready to seize a unique chance to claim Lord’s glory.

The county open their Bob Willis Trophy programme when Hampshire visit the 1st Central County Ground today (11am).

Gillespie is delighted to see the ECB show initiative and introduce a one-off first-class tournament to replace the County Championship in this Covid-curtailed season.

There will be minor changes in the conditions of play compared to those in force for the Championship, which has been placed on hold until next year.

But it is four-day cricket with a red ball, played over three regional conferences.

The two teams across the groups with the best record progress to a final at Lord’s.

Setback in push to bring spectators back to sport

The Trophy is in line with the format Gillespie suggested several weeks ago when it became clear a short season was the best that could be hoped for.

Sussex’s head coach returned to Hove last Saturday and saw his side have the better of a draw over two days early in the week, also at Hove.

He said: “I think it’s fantastic we are getting cricket.

“I love the initiative. At this stage it’s a one-off but every team in the country can aspire to it.

“If it’s a one-off, what a great trophy that would be to hold up.

“Teams will be playing as hard as they can and wanting to get as many points as they can so they can take on that final at Lord’s.

“I applaud the ECB for getting it in board and all the counties will be really keen to put their best foot forward and play well.

“We are certainly really excited here to play.

“It’s slightly different, yes, but it’s a great opportunity to play some cricket.

“Hopefully at some stage we will be able to play in front of some crowds, which would be amazing.”

South Africans David Wiese and Stiaan Van Zyl will not be coming to England this summer and Travis Head’s stint as overseas player has been out back until 2021.

Gillespie has heard glowing reports of how the Sussex players have been training since their return from furlough leave.

He has been back in Adelaide since a brief trip to Hove just before the domestic season was due to begin in April.

He said: “It has been a challenge.

“It has been great it be at home and spend time with my family and see friends and things like that but I have really missed the cricket.

“When I found out cricket was starting up again in the UK, I was pretty keen to get over and get stuck in.

“I was a bit unsure about the whole thing going on here and travelling from somewhere where, in my state, things are quite settled down.

“You read all the news and a lot of it is negative and you think, ‘Should I be doing this?’ but I’m very comfortable.

“The protocols put in place by the ECB and Sussex here are excellent.

“I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in.”