Sussex made a welcome return to the west of the county for their annual pilgrimage to Arundel’s Castle Ground.
The county have been playing in the Duke of Norfolk’s admittedly vast and well-appointed ‘back yard’ since the 1970s but it’s not the furthest westerly ground in Sussex that has staged first-class cricket.
It’s not well known, probably because they haven’t played there since 1950, that Sussex regularly staged Championship fixtures at Oaklands Park in Chichester in the first half of the last century.
There is record of a Sussex team comprising 16 players taking on an All England XI there in 1852. All 16 batted and James Dean, an opening batsman who played more than 300 first-class games, made 44 of their 89 runs.
Sixteen Championship games were staged there with nearby Hampshire the most popular visitors on five occasions. For five years immediately after the Second World War, Chichester staged its own cricket week with two fixtures. The last match there took place in June 1950, a drawn match against Glamorgan when Charlie Oakes scored a century for Sussex.
Just as far west, but on the Sussex coast, is Pagham Cricket Club’s ground at Nyetimber. It’s a pretty spot a stone’s throw from the sea and for two years in the 1970s the county hosted Oxford University here when games against the students carried first-class status.
The Sussex team that played there in 1979 was captained by John Barclay and included a future Sussex skipper, Paul Parker, who made a century and a future captain of Pakistan in Javed Miandad.
He went on to score more than 8,000 runs in 124 Tests for his country and was a fine batsman, although he is perhaps best known for an infamous dust-up with Dennis Lillee during a Test against Australia at Perth in 1981 when Lillee aimed a kick at the batsman and Miandad reacted by threatening to hit the Australian fast bowler with his bat! The pair had to be separated by umpire Tony Crafter.
Javed must have liked Pagham though. He played there in 1976 against Oxford too when the students’ side included Vic Marks, who these days can be found in the Test Match Special commentary box, and Chris Tavare, who played an important role in helping England win the 1981 Ashes as the slow-scoring foil to Ian Botham’s heroics.