Sussex in the Second XI Championship

By David Jeater and Kevin Jones, May 2023

Part 1 Appearances and Batting

Sussex, like most other first-class counties, have taken part in every year of the Second Eleven Championship, the red-ball ‘reserves’ competition, since it started in 1959. The 2020 competition was cancelled, so that gives a total of 63 seasons, during which (by the end of 2022) the club had played 718 matches.

Over that time the club has taken the title in three seasons, in 1978, 1990 and 2007. These sides were captained by Chris Waller and Ian Greig in 1978, by Keith Greenfield in 1990, and by various players in 2007. As at the start of the 2023 season, it had won 192 (27 per cent) of its matches, drawn 322 (45 per cent) and lost 204 (28 per cent). A further 21 have been abandoned without play.

In its matches, Sussex have fielded 848 players – a rate of thirteen new players a season and more than one new player per match. Of those 848, 58 have also played Test cricket – for nine countries. In 2003 the club fielded 44 players, its most in a season, to fulfil its twelve fixtures: the lowest total was 22 in 1976, a season with ten matches. Nationally there has been a player of the season award since 1989; to date the only Sussex player to win the trophy has been Will Beer in 2012.


Most of the players have, of course, been candidates for first-team places. But there have also been hopeful club cricketers (some just ‘filling in’), coaching staff and first-team regulars recovering from loss of form or injury, and thence all the way up to potential and real international superstars. As can be appreciated from the tables, there are plenty of instances of good players being  ’promoted’ out of the side into the first team, just when for Second Eleven record-making purposes, a statistician might like them to stay put. The tables also show how a special niche has been kept for reserve wicketkeepers.

Will Beer, the only Sussex player to win ‘the player of the season’ award

There has been considerable variation in the shape and size of the competition. In its earliest form, two-day matches were the rule with wide differences in the number of matches played by sides: league positions were determined by average points per match. Most matches were of three days from 1977 until 2000: in the nineties, Sussex often played all the other seventeen participants. Four-day matches, fewer in  number, have been played in several seasons since, and the sides involved were split into North and South Divisions from 2009 to 2019. So far the county has scored 282,820 runs in its matches, losing 9,936 wickets at an average of 28.46 per wicket; its opponents have scored 286,109 runs, losing 9,691 wickets, making an average of 29.52.

All this, of course, amounts to a whole lotta cricket, so your authors thought it high time that we publish some records of individual achievements in the competition. As far as we know, no other county has published similar records. Enjoy.




771K.Newell1990-1996, 1998
969D.J Foreman1959-1969
1067T.J.Head1975-1981, 1983, 1984, 1986
1165A.M.Green1977-1984, 1987-1989
Oldest George Cox (59), youngest Neil Lenham (14)

Notes:  The table lists all players making 65 or more appearances. Matches abandoned without a ball bowled are excluded. George Cox is the oldest player for the side: he was 59 years 9 months in the match v Middlesex, Hove, 1971. Neil Lenham is the youngest player: he was 14 years 8 months in the match v Surrey, Cranleigh, 1980.



Most runs in an innings


1258*C.A.L.Smithv Glamorgan, Abergavanney, 2016
2239K.C.Wesselsv Kent, Eastbourne, 1976
3231K.C.Wesselsv Middlesex, Haefield, 1976
4229*D.R.Lawv Lancashire, Hove, 1990
5227Javed Miandadv Hampshire, Hove, 1975
6215C.D.Hopkinsonv Hampshire, Hove, 2002
7212G.P.Burnettv Derbyshire, Hove, 1990
8208L.W.P.Wellsv Surrey, Hove, 2017
9207R.K.Raov Kent, Hove, 1998
10201*W.J.Housev Northamptonshire, Hastings [HP], 2002
10201*G.P.Burnettv Northamptonshire, Northampton, 1990
Notes: The table lists all innings of 200 runs or more: asterisks indicate not-out innings.  Javed Miandad was playing in his first match in the competition. House scored 130 in the first innings in the 2002 instance, thus totalling 331 runs, the most for Sussex in a match.

Most runs in a partnership, by wicket

1291J.J.Groome & K.C.Wesselsv Middlesex, Harefield, 1976
2346G.P.Burnett & K.Greenfieldv Derbyshire, Hove, 1990
3244J.Hall & K.Greenfieldv Warwickshire, Studley, 1994
4278W.J.House & C.D.Hopkinsonv Northamptonshire, Hstings, [HP], 2002
5192C.M.Wells & M.T.E.Peircev Glamorgan, Pontardulais, 1993
6233R.K.Rao & A.A.Khanv Somerset, Middleton-on-Sea, 1998
7229*B.T.P.Donelan & M.P.Speightv Surrey, Hove, 1993
8154G.L.Hayes & A.C.S.Pigottv Nottinghamshire, Nottingham, 1977
9163M.J.T.Gould & T.M.J.Smithv Somerset, Hove, 2007
10110P.D.Edwards & T.E.Linleyv Warwickshire, Birdham, 2006
Notes: Asterisks indicate unfinished partnerships. There have been three other partnerships of 250 runs or more. These are



2 324 C.F.Jackson & M.W.Machan v Middlesex, Hove, 2014
4255A.R.Cornford & P.W.G.Parkerv Leicestershire, Hove, 1989
1253K.R.Singh & N.R.K.Turkv Yorkshire, Hove, 2005

Most runs in a season

Notes: The table lists all batters scoring 800 runs or more in a season. Burnett was playing in his only season for the county.

Most runs in a career

2J.W.Hall1985, 1987-1996641123,85837.45
4M.T.E.Peirce1989, 1991-2000601023,74542.07
6K.Newell1990-1996, 1998711223,58032.54
7A.M.Green1977-1984, 1987-1989651163,24329.75
8N.Lenham1980-1989, 1991-199649843,24243.81
10L.J.Lenham1960, 1964, 1965, 1967-197363982,81133.46
Notes: The table lists all betters scoring 2,750 runs or moe. Greenfield scored 15 hundreds, the most for the side: Hall scored ten hundreds.

The figures in the tables above derive largely from three sources. These are (a) the CricketArchive database which now contains details of all Sussex matches in the competition; (b) the 38 editions of the First-Class Counties Second Eleven Annual, published by ACS; and (c) the Sussex County Cricket Club’s own annuals and scorebooks. Our thanks our due, in particular, to the scorers who stand behind all this data; they have ranged from committed, dedicated experts through to twelfth men and even schoolboys pressed into service in the scorebox! As this is the first time these tables have seen the light of day, there is a likelihood of errors and omissions; we’d appreciate it if readers would bring these to the attention of the Sussex Cricket Museum. You can do this by using the Contact Form here

Click here for Part 2 – Bowling, Fielding and Wicketing