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Ian Thomson, Sussex CCC

How Low Can You Go?

Throwback Thursday


News that their team had bowled out Warwickshire for 87 earlier this week would have pleased Sussex supporters, more so that it took place at Edgbaston where the county hadn’t won since 1982 when they dismissed the Bears for 43.

The tables have sometimes been turned in games against Warwickshire and 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of a remarkable three-day Championship game between the two that took place at the Manor Sports Ground in Worthing.

Remarkable mainly for the performance of Ian Thomson, one of the finest seam bowlers Sussex produced. In Warwickshire’s first innings he took all TEN wickets, only the second time that had happened in the county’s history and first occasion since 1899.

He remembers the day vividly. “You need a surface which responds and a bit of luck as well. The top surface came off early and the ball was going off the wicket at all sorts of odd angles. I remember getting to eight wickets and thinking all ten was on. John Snow was bowling at the other end and I was a bit slower than him. He bowled a bit too short to take advantage of what was on offer.”

Thomson finished with match figures of 15 for 75. It ought to have been enough to help Sussex to victory but their second innings was arguably one of the lowest points in the county’s history.

In 55 minutes they were bowled out for just 23 to lose by 182 runs. Such low totals aren’t as rare as you might think. They have been dismissed for 23 on four occasions and were bowled out for just 19 back in 1873 by Nottinghamshire.

Eight wickets in the next match against Nottinghamshire gave Thomson 23 in a week at Worthing, conceded at just six runs each. In their first innings Notts lost their last seven wickets for just eight runs.

Great entertainment of course, but not good for the county coffers when the game was over in two days. Sussex have not been back to Worthing for a county game since.

Henry Hyndman

The Communist Cricketer

Throwback Thursday


The Communist Cricketer It’s hard to imagine that Henry Hyndman, who played for Cambridge University and Sussex, was probably the most famous left-wing player in cricket history.

Those cricketers who take an interest in politics tend to be conservative in their outlook, which is hardly surprising given that most learned the game at public schools and emerge from middle-class backgrounds. Former Sussex captain Ted Dexter fought the 1964 election for the Conservatives in Cardiff South East, where he was heavily beaten by Jim Callaghan, a future Prime Minister.

It would have been interesting to eaves-drop on a conversation between ‘Lord Ted’ and Henry Hyndman, who played 13 first-class matches in 1864-65 as a right-handed batsman of modest ability who scored two half-centuries,

Hyndman had already decided on a career in politics whilst at Trinity College. He stood unsuccessfully as an independent in the 1860 General Election in the Marylebone constituency but after reading the Communist Party manifesto he became fascinated by the doctrine of Karl Marx and in particular his views on the capitalist society.

He wrote two well-received books on the subject and in 1881 set up the Social Democratic Federation, the first Marxist party in Britain. Although a talented writer and brilliant public speaker, Hyndman’s dictatorial approach didn’t always enthuse his fellow socialists, especially when he took a £340 bribe from the Tory party to field candidates in two London seats designed to split the liberal vote and ensure the Tories prevailed. It backfired spectacularly when the SDF candidates polled 59 votes between them.

Britain’s first Marxist political party was later subsumed into the Labour Representation committee, which was renamed the Labour Party in 1906. Hyndman died in 1921, but he did live to see the formation of the first British Communist Party in 1918. On his death-bed Hyndman admitted that his one true regret in life was that he didn’t win his cricket blue whilst at Cambridge, surely the only recorded instance of a communist cricketer regretting he wasn’t a blue.

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