There have been a lot of downs and almost as many ups for Worcestershire this summer.

A lot of water has flowed under a lot of bridges and, most alarmingly, all over the New Road outfield. But the one fact guaranteed when it comes to any detailed examination of Worcestershire's season is that it will end at Hove some time in the next four days.

It may be sooner rather than later, judging by the side chosen to thwart Sussex in their attempt to retain the County Championship title.

Ordinarily, serious questions might have been asked of a Yorkshireman, like director of cricket Steve Rhodes, to have picked a team like this to face a side trying to stop Lancashire winning their first outright title since 1934. But the sad fact is that the 11 players on duty are the best that can be mustered.

Of this season's preferred starting line-up (a team fielded only once, at Southampton last month when bowling linchpin Matt Mason was rushed back in desperation), more than half are absent.

First, there are the two casualties of battle. Mason has his arm in a sling as he recovers from his shoulder operation and Ben Smith is out with a broken knucklebone.

Australians Phil Jaques and Doug Bollinger returned home a month ago, captain Vikram Solanki is in England's World Twenty20 squad in South Africa, and Roger Sillence is no longer needed, having been told his contract will not be renewed for next season.

Added to that, overseas replacement Abdul Razzaq has been allowed to return home early to Pakistan following an undistinguished stay. The result is a team not likely to strike too much fear into Sussex hearts.

But Worcestershire still have plenty of heart. Graeme Hick, who needs 75 runs from his next two innings to register his 1,000 in a season for the 20th time, has been a colossus and, at the other end of the age scale, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.

Josh Knappett comes in for his debut, Richard Jones plays only his second County Championship match and, with another 20-year-old in Moeen Ali one of the star turns, Rhodes has signalled a future landscape in the dressing-room to match the sprouting of green shoots on the outfield.

With Daryl Mitchell and Steven Davies already comparative old hands in the team, the county can feel proud to have a third home-grown player in Stourbridge-born Jones in their ranks. They also have 18-year-old Mehraj Ahmed as 12th man.

The other big factor that Worcestershire have on their side is the winning spirit engendered by last Thursday night's memorable NatWest Pro40 title win at Bristol. Solanki, although thousands of miles away listening in on his phone, could not have been more delighted.

He said: "It's been well-documented, the trials and tribulations we've had, but I'm obviously ecstatic to win the Pro40 after all that's gone on. We've been close before but not got over the final hurdle and the two biggest disappointments were losing to Gloucestershire in Lord's finals two years running.

"But, for the time being, although I've probably now ended up with a pretty heavy phone bill from last Thursday night, we should enjoy it for what it is."

Solanki sees Worcestershire's Pro40 triumph as a massive consolation for how his side were so submerged in the Championship.

"I suppose there's never been a sterner test than what's gone on with the floods, not being able to play and players losing their kit," he said. "These things do test a side's character and it's been a fantastic effort by all the lads. Even the office staff pitched in with their wellies to help the clean-up.

"But I've never been in the business of making excuses and I wouldn't like to think anyone at the club would think or try to suggest it was down to the floods that we've played the way we have in Championship cricket. There's more to it than that.

"Mark Newton [chief executive] has fielded a lot of questions about decisions he might have made, but I know that Mark and everyone involved in the club has the best interests of the club at heart. And, of course, they did affect us but, before the floods came, we hadn't played anything like we should have done.

"It's been a tough year but the only thing guaranteed to lift spirits is winning a trophy. Hopefully, we can build on it next year and address the way we've played Championship cricket, because there's no doubt we've let ourselves down in that."

Sussex have captain Chris Adams doubtful because he has five stitches in the little finger on his right hand after sustaining a deep cut against Nottinghamshire on Sunday.

Injured Rana Naved and Murray Goodwin are out of the reckoning, but Mushtaq Ahmed and Jason Lewry are available after having knee problems. Batsman Carl Hopkinson replaces Goodwin while Chris Liddle, Rageb Aga and Ollie Rayner are on standby. Saqlain Mushtaq misses out.