As I raised my pint of Harvey’s local brew over a sunlit Hove ground I had three reasons to celebrate. Firstly, Hampshire’s defeat after a contrived declaration by Yorkshire and themselves forfeiting their second innings meant that that our status should be secure. Secondly, Sussex were the first county to congratulate the ECB on their non-decision to adjourn any changes to the format until 2017. The system stays intact for another year. Thirdly Mike Yardy was given a guard of honour as he left the pitch he has graced for 16 years for the last time. Later he and the team came into the Players Club and I was able to congratulate him personally. It’s common knowledge that Mike has had his issues and demons. We would have hated that 34 run over he bowled against Northamptonshire to be his swansong. Instead he recorded after that 2 vital centuries against Yorkshire for a draw and Somerset this week.
The match against Somerset was heading for a draw after Trescothick who always scores centuries against us looked so indomitable at the crease. Anxious eyes turned to the Rose Bowl where Hampshire were playing champions Yorkshire. Yorkshire declared at 97-4 and Hampshire forfeited their second innings. This was clearly not just contrived but a deal cut between the two sides. Ho, ho Yorkshire won it. It would be so wrong if such a ploy sent Sussex or Somerset down . Sussex would now have to have a total collapse aganst Yorshire and Hampshire get maximum points.
When I saw the players in the flesh in our Players Club, two thoughts struck me. Firstly, how young and fresh-faced they seemed. Secondly, it would never happen in football that you could fraternise so easily and accessibly with the team. Throughout the game there was banter with the players fielding nearby as if we were chatting over the garden fence. We still have the awards dinner night, the Players Club end of season Dinner, both of which attended by players so yesterday the member of the Players Club slipped away to leave the boys to enjoy a successful week and above all to wish Mike Yardy well.
It is that spirit that makes Sussex CCC so special. We don’t pretend and don’t want to be one of the big boys with a test ground ,we are happy with our 6.000 capacity and the esprit de corps that generates. We now have another year to convince the ECB that this is worth preserving and that it’s not all about money and the white ball game.