Obituaries

Ian Thomson

It is with great regret that we announce the death of Ian Thomson, one of the greatest if not the greatest, of Sussex cricketers, who died on Sunday afternoon, 1 August,  at his home in Henfield, aged 92. Neil was a true Sussex stalwart and The County Ground was an important place for Neil and indeed his whole family.

Off an unthreatening run, Ian Thomson bowled 14,039 overs of in-dippers and leg-cutters in first-class cricket for Sussex and another 321 in limited-overs cricket. He bowled them to some effect, taking nearly 1,600 wickets in the course of fifteen seasons in those two formats. Only three Sussex players, all from times when careers spanned twenty seasons or more, have been numerically more successful. His tally included twelve successive seasons, from 1953 to 1964, when he secured 100 wickets for the county in first-class matches. His endurance encouraged one of the game’s more lyrical writers to speculate that he may have been bowling ‘from the dawn of time’. Ironically he is absent from Harry Pearson’s book, ‘The Trundlers’, subtitled ‘Underrate them at your peril’. Enough said. Nor should nearly 7,000 runs be forgotten; there were 13 fifties for the county and a goodly number of appearances at six or seven in the batting order.

Don Smith

Sussex Cricket is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Don Smith, in Adelaide, at the age of 97, on Sunday 10th January.

 

Don was born in Broadwater on 14 June 1923 and educated at Sussex Road School, Worthing. He played his early cricket for Worthing Boys’ Club and Worthing Nondescripts before volunteering for the RAF in 1941. After the war, he was recommended to Sussex by J.K. Mathews and made his first class debut against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1946. He was a left-handed opening batsman and medium pace bowler who went on to score 16,960 runs and take 340 wickets in a first class career which did not end until 1962. He played three test matches for England against the West Indies in1957. Read On

David Mordaunt

Sussex supporters will be saddened to hear the news that David Mordaunt has died at the age of 83. At a time when he was an Oxford prep-school teacher, David scored a ‘dashing’ 96 in the second innings of his first-ever first-class match for Sussex in The Parks in June 1958: he holed out attempting the fourth six-hit of his innings. He never quite reproduced that same form when he played sixteen successive matches for the county in the first half of the 1960 season, while on special leave from teaching. Usually at around seven in the order, he made three fifties but was replaced by ‘Tiger’ Pataudi for the second half of the season, having played the last of his 19 first-class matches. Read On

Keith Partridge

Sussex members and supporters will be saddened to learn of the death, on June 1, 2020, of dear old Keith Partridge who had been a character, loyal Sussex supporter and major fund raiser for the Club for well over fifty years at Hove. Keith had a number of personal obstacles to overcome; he was registered blind, had a severe speech impediment which made communicating difficult and struggled with his mobility. And yet, despite all this, he was one of the most cheerful individuals I have ever met and never let any of his disabilities blunt his enthusiasm for life. He loved his cricket and his involvement with Sussex County Cricket Club.

Read On

John Duncan

Sussex Cricket, the MCC, Lord’s Taverners’ and many others within our sporting fraternity mourns the recent passing of a wonderful, caring human being. At the height of the global pandemic, a true friend of cricket succumbed to the Covid 19 virus. John was admitted to University College London Hospital at the end of April, 2020, displaying symptoms and with trouble breathing. JD had suffered with Parkinson’s for much of the past decade and even though that disease was under control, he was a high risk.

On Friday 15 May, John’s wife, Helen phoned my wife, Adell here in Cape Town to say that the inevitable had happened. We grieved together for someone so very dear to our family; it was such a tragic passing for a genuinely wonderful guy. Being a close friend to JD, Richard Barrow suggested that I share some reminiscences for the Sussex community. Read On

John Duncan

Derek Semmence

Derek Semmence passed away yesterday, 29 March 2020, aged 81. Derek was born in Worthing on 20 April 1938 and educated at Shoreham Grammar School before he made his first class debut for Sussex in 1956 at the age of eighteen against Warwickshire, scoring 36. Derek Semmence was a right-handed batsman who bowled right arm medium pace. He played for Sussex between 1956 and 1959 before returning to Sussex in 1967. After his career in First Class cricket was over, Derek continued to be involved in cricket at youth level, becoming an excellent coach at Hurstpierpoint College. He also played for Sussex seniors for a number of years until 2013.

In his first ever season for Sussex Derek had the great thrill of scoring a maiden century of 108 off the Nottinghamshire bowlers at Trent Bridge to make him the youngest Sussex player to score a century in First Class Cricket.

Derek was a lovely man and someone who didn’t have to earn your respect: it happened naturally.   He had many friends in the Seniors who will have played in the same side as he did.   He was still bowling late away swing in the last seasons that he played. 

For a number of years Derek took cricketers from Hurstpierpoint College to Jamnagar, capital city of Nawanagar. Derek and his wife, Christine enjoyed India and they returned on many occasions to Jamnagar, staying at the royal palace.

Derek was very supportive of the Museum donating various memorabilia including a fine autograph page from 1937 which was displayed in the Museum.

He was a wonderful servant to Sussex cricket at all levels and he will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with Derek’s wife Christine and their children, Mark and Jacqueline.

For more on Derek’s cricket career go to his page

Rupert Webb

Here we publish a short extract of the eulogy given by Jon Filby at the Celebration of Rupert’s life in the Long Room in October.  

 “Rupert lived a life that most can only dream of.  First, he enjoyed a long career as a professional sportsman, then, if that rare achievement was not enough, he became a successful model and film star, before enjoying a very long and healthy retirement spent in the company of a beautiful actress. This was truly the stuff of dreams and it is made all the more admirable by the fact that Rupert so obviously enjoyed it all and yet took absolutely nothing for granted.

As pointed out by Ian Thomson in the Museum publication that marked Rupert’s 90th Birthday, Rupert was a “Good Un, with a heart of gold”:  Always remembering his friends and being intensely loyal to Sussex Cricket shown both by his regular visits to former colleagues such as Ted James, by the occasion when he organised a car load of David Sheppard’s Sussex colleagues to visit him in Liverpool shortly before his death despite expecting only to be able to spend an hour or so with him and by his long and sustained support for the Museum. It was a lovely thing that later in his life when Rupert found getting about more difficult, he himself received regular visits from fellow Sussex Cricketers including Tony Buss, Arthur Lawrence, Gilly Potter and Ian Thomson. As for his support for the museum, he not only organised his famous Rottingdean Cricket Lunches on our behalf but was also not afraid to intervene when he thought it necessary. He always did it with wisdom and a smile on his face but his support for the museum was invaluable and he was a constant source of encouragement to us all but especially to Rob Boddie and Norman Epps. The Museum team all held Rupert in the highest esteem.”