Last night I was invited to an intimate cricket dinner at the Sussex cricket museum at Hove in aid of the Mike Yardy benefit. Sussex CCC has certainly improved in terms of amenities and performance these past few years, mainly due to a generous legacy of £16m. Sussex is a proud sporting county and some fine cricketers have worn the martlet crest: Ranji, Arthur Gilligan, Maurice Tate, Ted Dexter, Jim Parks, Imran Khan, Mushtaq Ahmed, Matt Prior – to name but a few. Whilst Yardy is not in that league, he is a solid pro and has made the England team. With his teammate Luke Wright, he reminisced on the T20 World Cup victory in which they both featured under coach Andy Flower and skipper Paul Collingwood.
Inevitably there were questions about playing with Kevin Pietersen However, both took the view that they wanted to win and had much more chance of so doing with KP in the side. He was the dominant batsman of the tournament.
Evenings like this reflect the enduring appeal of county cricket. I sat on the table next to the curator of the museum and club historian, John Filby, who persuaded me to bid more than I wanted for signed photos of WG Grace and Don Bradman. The Bearded Doctor and the Don now sit proudly alongside one another in my stud , two of the very greatest sportsmen ever – let alone cricketers.
I do not begrudge the money. Footballers only occasionally make a benefit these days as the one-club man is a rarity, but guys like Mike Yardy are worthy of every support for their loyalty and application.