The second division of the Championship is the poor relative of the cricket competitions meriting a wrap-up paragraph at the rear of the sports pages. One of these reasons for this is that a second division side can still complete in the white ball competitions, indeed all 4 finalists in the Royal London and T20 were drawn from that division.
Yesterday Ivan Conway invited me to Hove to watch the second day of Sussex v Essex. Sussex had posted a total of 360 to which they did not add. The morning at Hove often carries moisture helpful to swing. Magoffin claimed an early breakthrough by having Alastair Cook dismissed for 1 and Essex’s other England batter did not so much better out for 17 to a dreadful swipe. Jesse Ryder steadied the ship and Essex closed the day with 252 for 7.
By the late afternoon it was bitterly cold and noone really objected when the umpires ceased play at 6 pm for bad light. Light meters are not used so its at the umpires’ discretion. With a four day game with often the last day not coming into play I don’t really see the need to extend play to nearly 6-30. It was so cold everyone – not least the players – wanted to go home. In fact they could not as a post-match drink was organised with the Players Club of which Ivan is a member. I chatted to Chris Nash who scored a century. He said with no relegation you could do two things you cannot in the first: give youth its head and go for a result as a draw is not much use. Mind, the division now only has one promoted berth.
I spoke too to the Essex scorer. As a kid I knew no greater joy than to keep the score in a large and detailed book. At cricket matches I still see fans doing this. I asked the gentleman how you became a scorer. He took early retirement fron a bank, became a steward and was invited to become a scorer. 15 years on and in his late seventies he is still doing so. One of the peculiarities of the job is you score every ball in the company of the opposition scorer which is useful for a second opinion but must test your social skills over 4 days.