I have spent the last two days at Hove watching Sussex play Worcestershire. Our season started well with a win over Hampshire. On Sunday Matt Machan, essentially a one day player, was called up with injuries to Chris Nash and Mike Yardy. He clearly decided to make his mark, reaching 50 in 27 balls and his century in 77. In a career best of 135 he hit 4 sixes, 18 fours off 100 balls. Sadly this aggressive start did not set the foundation of a massive score. Only Luke Wright and Shahzad added more runs as Sussex posted 345 all out. Worcestershire added 45 without loss.
Yesterday was a beautifully sunny day at Hove as I took up my position in a wicker chair on the boundary fence in the Players Club. The second day was not to prove as sparkling as the first. Sussex put down 5 catches as Worcestershire bettered their total with 384 runs. I heard later that Shahzad the new recruit from Nottinghamshire was ill and tyro young speedster Tyma Mills who reminds me of Devon Malcolm had also to come off for injury. As ever Steve Magoffin who took 72 wickets last season was the workhorse with three wickets. The dour play contrasted with the glorious weather and as I looked over the green sward my mind began to turn to the Sussex legends I have watched there over my 65 years: Alan Oakman, Lord Ted Dexter, young Jim Parks, John Snow, the brothers Buss, The Reverend ( David Sheppard), Tong Greig, Imran Khan to the Martlets that won us three championships, Chris Adams, Mushy Ahmed, Murray Goodwin and James Kirtley.
After close of play coach Mark Robinson brought over both sides. This is something you would not see at the Amex as footballers are cocooned and rarely meet their fans. Even as I found when you sponsor one. I found myself chatting to a Worcester player who said that Sussex is their favourite away trip. I wondered what sort of life a county cricketer leads. Moheen Ali was called up to the England team and I discreetly enquired how the regular pros react to the more privileged, centrally contracted teammate. This player spoke well of Ali. In Sussex Ben Brown is now the regular wicket keeper as Matt Prior has a serious Achilles injury and, the word is, unlikely to play again. Chris Jordan is centrally contracted and given our injuries his pace and presence would be useful.
The twenty/20 now assumes greater significance and the Sussex Sharks have recruited Jayawardene, the prolific Sri Lankan and Aussie skipper George Bailey after him to spearhead our campaign. Sussex were the first Gillette winners and the one day game has come on since then. Chris Gayle, Brendan Macallum are also all playing over here so there will be much interest. Sussex play few county games in the high summer so the revenue from a successful twenty/ 20 run is required. Chief Executive Zac Tamarzi came over to the club. He spoke of revenue generation from sponsorship. As long as I can remember county cricket has had its financial problems but thank goodness it’s still there to enjoy days of cricket in the sunshine such as yesterday. The nearby Goldstone Ground, the once home of the Albion, is a Toys for Us outlet and I would not wish such a fate on the club of Lord Ted and young Jim.