The Golden Years of Sussex Cricket
The main focus of Gallery One is the Golden Years of Sussex Cricket, 1895-1905. These were the years of Ranji and Fry when Sussex supporters were treated to a batting feast. With small boundaries and for the most part a good batting wicket, opposing bowlers must have dreaded coming to Hove. Opposition bowlers would toil all day long to try and get first Fry and his opening partner, Joe Vine, out, before Ranji himself came in lower down the order. The term, Golden Age is not only used to describe a wonderful era for Sussex but also describes an era when cricket came of age and when at a time of New Imperialism, the British Empire occupied a fifth of the world’s territory. Cricket was synonymous with empire and the game was used to transmit the values of the empire as well as unite the empire together.
As you enter the gallery, on the left hand side is a cabinet full of Ranji memorabilia, including his Coronation album from 1907 donated by Ranji himself. In the same cabinet as the Ranji album is a bat once used by Harry Phillips to score a century against the 1884 Australians together with a photograph of Phillips with GN Wyatt (who also scored 100 in the first innings against Australia) and Walter Humphreys (who took 11 wickets including a hat trick in the same match).
In the second section of the cabinet is a diary and photograph album that Bert Relf compiled whilst a member of the MCC team in Australia in 1903-4, and also a watch, leather wallet and napkin ring that all belonged to Bert. In this section there is also a bat signed by many Sussex players from the 1901 side.