Last night I attended a dinner at Sussex Cricket Museum for Mike Yardy on his retirement after 16 seasons with Sussex, the golden age of Sussex cricket with 3 championships, 2 Pro 40 National League wins, a C & G win, and a T20 too. The one club man is increasingly a rarity in football but in cricket its not so unusual to see a fine cricketer who on the international stage won the T20 World Cup play all his cricket for one county.
It used to be said of Yorkshire that you had to be born in the county to play for them. If you look at their side now, the best in the country, it’s much more diverse. Sussex has regularly produced its own and still does. Mike Yardy comes from Hastings, Lewis Hatchett from Shoreham, Chris Nash from Horsham, Matt Hobden from Eastbourne. We also have more than our fair share of dynasties – father and sons Parks, Tates, Wells, and I hear there are two fine Lenhams, grandsons of Len in the Academy.
I go to many cricketing dinners in Sussex but none beats the intimacy of those held in the museum. There you sit below the image of CB Fry ,the first cricketer to request a motor car costing £250 and the only one to be offered the Kingship of Albania, apart from Phil Tufnell, the imperious Ranji, who scored a century on his debut for Cambridge, his nephew Duleep, Lord Ted Dexter – right through to the actual lockers of the 2003 winning team, the last of whom we paid tribute to last night.
It’s common knowledge that Yards, as he will forever be known, has had problems confronting his demons which made his determination to score valuable runs as he did last season to save the day on several occasions all the more admirable as was the support of his wife Cathy who was also present. He clocked up 10,373 runs at an average of 36 and took some useful wickets as a change bowler . Now he will coach at Hurstpierpoint the national cricketing schools champions where a young lad Ted Haynes has already scored a century for the Sussex seconds to ensure the conveyor belt continues.
I felt immensely proud and honoured to be one of a select group paying tribute to a man that has serve cricket and his county so steadfastly.