Yesterday was the beginning of Arundel Festival week one of the most enjoyable events in the Sussex CCC calendar. Sadly the rain that has spoiled this summer and the cricket championship did not abate and play could only start at 2-30pm. Arundel is considered the most beautiful ground in the country, part of the Duke of Norfolk’s estate, surrounded by trees and looking over the Downs to the river Arun.
One of Sussex’s problems – this season and last – is their inability to post a decent first innings score. It means they are forever chasing the game, relying on the weather for a draw and not picking up any batting points. Yesterday was no different when they were out against a moderate Northamptonshire side for 178. Chris Nash, as ever, got a vital score of 75 and Matt Machen contributed 30. The rest failed with Northamptonshire at stumps in the better position at 43-1.
It’s always an enjoyable social day even if there is no play. We sat at at table with Sussex bowler Jimmy Anyon who last season had to retire with a degenerative arthritic condition. Conversation turned to what a cricketer does after his career is finished and in his case he is coaching at the Brighton school and starting a new life as an executive in the food business marketing gluten-free products. Djokovic went gluten free and attributed his stellar success to the change of diet.
My guest for the day noted that as a new player entered the field after his teammate was dismissed no words of encouragement or consolation were exchanged by the two passing. This seems to highlight an unusual feature of cricket: it is a team game but the individual has to make runs or take wickets and the the best of them like Geoff Boycott and Ian Botham are driven but selfish. A batsman who failed has a long walk, has to go through the pavilion of sometimes critical supporters and perhaps sit for a long time in the dressing room brooding. This may account for the high instance of depression and even suicide amongst cricketers. Footballers make errors in a high pressure, high octane stadium but have the chance to rectify to or even in some cases hide on the pitch. I found it fascinating to discuss this topic not with one of the greats but a journeyman pro of whom I doubt many would have heard and to learn of the pressures they work under. Not that they would mind: playing cricket at pro level is the happiest , most fulfilling time of those lives which only enhances the problem of what to do once it is finished. One cricketer who has led varied life is Ted Dexter here is an article in The Guardian telling you more about this – TED DEXTER
We did have a stroll round the ground which was lovely and this together with his interesting sporting conversation compensated for the poor weather and indifferent Sussex start.