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George Cox – he loved batting and sweating off the pounds in his home-made sauna

George R. Cox

Throwback Thursday


It’s rare for one long-standing Sussex record to be broken in a game never mind two so it’s no wonder the county’s supporters were dusting off their copies of Wisden at the weekend after a debut to remember for 21-year-old Ollie Robinson.

Signed just a few days earlier after impressing in the second team, Robinson became the first Sussex batsman to score a hundred on debut in the County Championship since 1920 while his last-wicket partnership with Matthew Hobden (whose career-best 65 was somewhat overshadowed) of 164 was the highest in Sussex’s history, beating a record lodged by Harry Butt and George Cox Senior that had stood for 107 years.

Cox and Butt. It sounds like a firm of Sussex solicitors but in the years before the First World War they were involved in two heroic last-wicket stands.

The 156 they put on against Cambridge University at Fenner’s in 1908 might be scoffed at nowadays but back then the student teams often provided players for England and were as strong as most county sides.

Two years earlier, when Sussex played neighbours Hampshire at Chichester, Cox and Butt scored 113 together.

Cox was one of the finest cricketers Sussex produced in the first half of the 20th century. He would often come in down the order, sometimes even at No.11, but as his place in the record books attest he was a terrific competitor with the bat, who sold his wicket dearly.

Until last Sunday, his name figured in the best three stands for Sussex’s last wicket, the 130 he put on with George Stannard against Essex in 1919 being the county record in the Championship until Robinson and Hobden came together at Durham last Sunday.

Cox, whose son George Junior also played for Sussex, was first and foremost a bowler, good enough to take 1,810 wickets between 1895-1928, a tally beaten only by the great Maurice Tate. He once took 17 wickets in a match at his club ground, Horsham, having walked to the ground every day from his home in nearby Warnham and sweated off a celebratory pint or two at the end of each day’s play in a rudimentary sauna at the back of his house he built himself.

Bearing in mind the tenth wicket record stood since 1908 it could be a while before the efforts of Robinson and Hobden are beaten. After such an outstanding performance they deserve their place in the history books for a few years anyway.

Ted Dexter started 1965 as Sussex captain but broke his leg in a freakish accident

Who’s in charge?

Throwback Thursday


For the first time this season Sussex have two different captains. While Ed Joyce will continue to lead the team in the County Championship, Luke Wright has been handed responsibility for the T20 team.

It’s a move that makes sense given Wright’s vast experience of playing T20 all over the world and with several players playing in both formats it’s not likely to unsettle the team too much.

The county have had just three captains since 1998. Chris Adams, the most successful in their history, did it for a staggering 11 years and across all the formats as well. Mike Yardy, his successor, was in charge for four years and since 2013 Joyce was been at the helm.

How Sussex would have loved that continuity 50 years ago. The county went into the 1965 season seemingly in good shape. They had won the first Gillette Cup one-day competition in 1963 and retained the trophy the following year.

Instead, the county won just four of their 28 Championship games and finished next to bottom and were knocked out of the Gillette Cup in the third round by Middlesex at Lord’s.

The reasons for their decline are not hard to work out. That season they had no fewer than FIVE captains.

Ted Dexter started in charge but the day after Sussex lost their grip on the Gillette Cup, Dexter was pushing his Jaguar off the Chiswick flyover after breaking down and the car rolled back and broke his leg. He was out for the season.

The job was then shared around by opening batsman Alan Oakman, Jim Parks, who led the team when he wasn’t playing for England, the Nawab of Pataudi, who would succeed Dexter in 1966, and Ian Thomson, who led the team once against Cambridge University in his final season before retiring to take a job in the family’s garage business.

No wonder Sussex had such an abysmal summer. “We didn’t know whether we were coming or going,” remembers Parks. “Losing Ted was a blow and I don’t think the committee at the time knew what to do so it ended up being an audition for who was going to do the job the following year because we knew Ted would be stepping down at the end of the season.

“The Nawab did a good job at the end of the season and proved to be a good skipper in 1966. We had a lot of fun playing under him.”

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