Sussex will be on one of the big stages when the new season starts today.

They take on Lancashire at Old Trafford on day one of the new look LV= Insurance County Championship.

Headingley is on the agenda too and who knows where else when the three conferences become three divisions later in the season?

But Ian Salisbury, who has taken over as coach along with James Kirtley after the departure of Jason Gillespie, wants Hove to have a bit of a Test match feel too.

That can only help youngsters progress which, in turn, helps Sussex.

Salisbury will be in charge of the Championship squad and is a fan of the new set-up which sees the 18 counties drawn into three conferences.

From those, the top two will go into Division One, third and fourth into Division Two and fifth and sixth into Division Three.

There will no longer be promotion or relegation.

Something along those lines was tried in the Bob Willis Trophy last season but this takes things a step further.

Salisbury told The Argus: “I love the format. I love conferences, but I’m gutted for the supporters.

“I don’t think they have been to Old Trafford for a while.

“They wouldn’t have been to Headingley for a while.

“I think the format will be brilliant for English cricket and producing English cricketers.

“The two best sides got to the final last year.

“The two best sides will get to the final this year.

“How it goes into the divisions, you will your position in the pecking order.

“Ironically, last year we would have been 18th!

“We could be playing the last of the group games to decide whether we are in the first, second or third division.

“Say we are in the second division, you are then playing for final position.

“We could finish seventh and there’s prize money for that.

“More importantly I think without promotion and relegation you can genuinely try and produce England cricketers from your own county.

“I’m biased, obviously, but I think it will be brilliant for spinners.

“I have already instructed the groundsman that I want to play on the flattest wickets possible, as if you were playing a Test match at Hove.


“I want batsmen to be able to score runs, I want seam bowlers to play on good wickets.

“If we want Ollie Robinson to play for England, we want him to play on good wickets which will prepare him for Test match cricket.

“If we want Jack Carson to play for England, we want him to learn how to hold a game in the first innings and to spin them out in the second.

“I think a lot of counties will do that without the threat of relegation."

Sussex used a lot of young players last year and, after an opening win over Hampshire, finished bottom of their group.

They are in a six with Yorkshire, Lancashire, Glamorgan, Kent and Northants.

It is a very challenging section and a top-two finish would be considered a success.

Salisbury added: “I’d love to say we will be in the first division and competing.

“Realistically it wouldn’t say that on paper but you don’t play cricket on a piece of paper. So who knows?

“I’m hugely excited. It’s a young, optimistic, hungry side and they are always dangerous.

“We are all going to work.

“All I ask if the players is each day they turn up and try to get better.”