From Surrey to Sussex
Arnold Long was born on 18 December 1940 in Cheam, Surrey. He attended Wallington Grammar School before leaving at eighteen to join Surrey becoming their regular wicket keeper in 1962. Two years later he set a new world record, equalled by five other ‘keepers, of catching 11 batsmen in the match against Sussex at Hove. Long was a member of the Surrey team that won the County Championship in 1971. His leadership qualities were recognised by Surrey when Long became vice-captain in 1973.
After losing his place his place as Surrey wicket keeper to Lonsdale Skinner, Long moved to Sussex in 1976 and captained the county from 1978 until his retirement in 1980. He was a good wicket keeper, a solid lower-order left-hand batsman, and a mature, reliable leader for Sussex at a time of transition.
In his first season for Sussex, Long took 71 dismissals and over the next few seasons he showed his technical ability behind the stumps at its best. In 1977 Sussex was going through a bad patch with the captain Tony Greig only playing half of the games. With team morale low, the Committee decided to appoint Arnold as captain for the 1978 season.
Long was very different to Greig in temperament but set about the task of rebuilding team spirit, which he did steadily. His reward came at the end of the season when he lifted the Gillette Cup aloft on the balcony at Lord’s. He may not have been the star that Greig was but Long was efficient and respected. In the final of the Gillette Cup, the batting power of Viv Richards and Ian Botham of Somerset was held in check whilst Paul Parker was able to guide Sussex home. Much of the applause from the Sussex fans must have been for the unlikely captain who had rejuvenated their team. The following year Sussex reached the semi-final of the Gillette Cup, but were denied a second successive win by the batting of Allan Lamb, who made a century for Northamptonshire.
Fourth in the Championship
In the County Championship, Sussex were led by Long into fourth place, something that had not been achieved since the days of Ted Dexter. He remained as captain for a further season, sometimes dropping himself to blood some of the youngsters, before retiring from playing and handing over to John Barclay for the 1981 season.
As Wisden said, ‘Long’s thoughtful captaincy served Sussex well’. Arnold Long will be 80 in December and the Cricket Museum will be celebrating this event by having a display on his playing career at Sussex.
Arnold Long’s Sussex Record
Played from 1976-1980
Matches Innings NO Runs HS Avge 100s Ct St
97 123 40 1689 60 20.34 0 216 21