I went to Hove for the second day running to watch Sussex play Derbyshire. Derbyshire trail by 102 runs at 195-8 so the only block to a victory is the weather. Sunday had glorious weather and I would not have wished to be anywhere in the world than in the sun with a pint of Harvey’s in the Players club enclosure. Yesterday there was an icy wind and I needed to buy a sweater from the club shop for additional warmth. One of the joys of cricket watching is the opportunity to talk about cricket and I had various conversations on the health of county cricket. The patient is sickly and the medical treatment questionable. Surrey is by far the richest county, accounting for 25% of all county revenues. They always get a August Test and bar takings flow from this and the T20. I’ve heard the figure put at £1m per day/night.
The other Test counties are not so healthy and are heavily in debt. Lords is owned by the MCC not Middlesex. Durham paid £952,000 to the ECB for the recent Test but by yesterday the result was a foregone conclusion, the weather cold and the attendance disappointing. The Test counties return to the ECB cap in hand which begs the question whether a better system would be for the ECB to pay the host county with a distribution to the rest. In the second division are the basket cases like Northants who recently told their players they should bring sandwiches as they could not afford lunch. Sussex sit between the two: no debt, we own our ground and had the boost of the Spen Cama inheritance of £16m. I was so pleased we used our legacy to stay and improve Hove and did not – like Hampshire – move out of Southampton to the Rose Bowl to pitch for Test status. The panacea for all of this is the T20 game which the counties will have to embrace at the expense of the county red ball game. Sussex have two such games this week which will earn much more than all the home games to date … and possibly the future. The counties are in two minds here: they need the money but T20 will not produce the grounding for Test players. But hey so what, Test cricket is in global decline, West Indians Dwight Bravo and Chris Gayle would not turn out for the West Indies when both were in Australia and the Test attendance was feeble compared to Big Bash. County cricket is a difficult patient to treat with so many symptoms.
Before close of play I travelled with my neighbours at the Amex to the stadium for the Robert Eaton memorial game between the supporters of Brighton and bitter rivals Crystal Palace. Robert Eaton went to work and never returned as he was at The Twin Towers on 9/11. A keen Brighton supporter a match has taken place in his memory for charity. My neighbour ‘s son was in goal for the Albion team who also featured legend Peter Ward. Andrew Johnson played for Palace. The standard was higher than I expected with the Palace supporters winning 3-2.
My friends gave me a lift home and on a bend right amongst the Downs their BMW conked out. Understandably there was panic with night fall not long away. Green Flag came to our rescue but the man could not get into the diagnostic system to identify the fault so we called a taxi. The irony is that I know my neighbours prefer the A27. This is a a busy dual carriageway, especially on the last day of bank holiday weekend and the consequences of a sudden breakdown would have been horrendous. When I got home I deserved a large whisky and not just for the cold …