Cricket Grounds of Sussex

Published: 2023
Pages: 88
Author: Packham, Roger
Publisher: ACS
Rating: 3.5 stars

It is the best part of forty years since the ACS began a series of booklets cataloging the various grounds on which the eighteen First Class counties have played over their histories. The last two released were Somerset and Durham, in 2005 and 2006, and enthusiasts of the series could have been forgiven for wondering whether ‘the full set’ would ever be covered.

Outstanding are Sussex and Northants and, perhaps fittingly, both appeared simultaneously last month. It would be fair to say that the way in which the booklets are presented has changed over the years, but whilst appearances may have altered as time has passed the format is, essentially, a familiar one.

Roger Packham’s look at the grounds on which Sussex have played runs in chronological order. It begins, appropriately enough, in Brighton. The Prince of Wales ground in Brighton saw a First Class fixture as long ago as 1791, and in 1815 Sussex’s first First Class match was played there. It was also the last such match at the ground. The next seven grounds to be looked at, two more in Brighton, all saw their final First Class fixtures before the dawn of the twentieth century.

The club’s current headquarters, Hove, was the fifteenth ground on which the county appeared and now, with the passing of the old festivals, is just about the only ground which hosts Sussex. There have been 21 grounds altogether, and those that have been the subject of frequent appearances all have a set of records including team records, partnership records and those of individual achievements. Those treated in that way are, in addition to the present Hove ground, Hastings, Eastbourne, Chichester, Horsham, Worthing and Arundel as well as the Brighton Royal Gardens Ground, the Hove Royal Brunswick ground and the historic sward at Sheffield Park. The first two of those were lost to developers in Victorian times. Sheffield Park is still a cricket ground, but it has, not seen a First Class fixture since 1896.

The booklet closes with some brief notes regarding another 39 venues that have hosted second eleven fixtures or other matches of interest.

Without giving the matter too much thought I can say with certainty that as many as six of the grounds featured in Cricket Grounds of Sussex have been the subject of full length books in their own right a fact which, I suppose, illustrates as vividly as can be done the role that Sussex cricket and cricketers have played in the game’s development. A guide such as this can only ever scratch the surface of such a rich history but, as is to be expected from as eminent a historian as Roger Packham, it does so very well.

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