Three hundred years ago, on 4 June 1719, the well-known diary of Thomas Marchant reports that he had attended ‘a cricket match at ye Sandfield’, near Hurstpierpoint. From about this date, documentary references to cricket in Sussex become an annual occurrence.
Two hundred and ninety years ago, in August 1729, ‘a great Cricket Match was play’d at Penshurst Park’ in Kent for 100 guineas a side ‘attended by thousands of spectators’. It was an eleven-a-side game between Kent, captained by Edward Steed, and a side led by Sir William Gage of West Firle, representing Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. The latter side won.
Ranji’s last game
Finally, in August 1920, also a hundred years ago, Ranjitsinhji, now 47 and with only one eye, played his last first-class matches for Sussex, scoring 39 runs in four innings. He had been Sussex captain in 1900, so had been the first Asian player to captain a county, and in that season had scored five double centuries for Sussex.
This season, on 19 July 2020, Sussex have a match with Durham in the Royal London Cup on the ground here at Hove. This seemingly routine fixture will, however, be the 400th official first-team limited-overs match – so-called List A − played at Hove since 1963. The first match was on 12 June 1963 when Sussex beat Yorkshire in the Gillette Cup by 22 runs, ‘before a record crowd’ of 15,000.