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Jim Parks with the Gillette Trophy
which Sussex won in 1963

Jim Parks attracts crowds at the Gillette Cup

Throwback Thursday


The vagaries of this season’s lop-sided county fixture list are such that Sussex’s game against Glamorgan on Wednesday night is their last for 19 days.

At the height of the summer, and with the schools on holiday and a Bank Holiday this weekend, it’s a ridiculous situation that the ECB will hopefully address in 2015. Remember too that in June, Sussex played on 21 days out of 27!

Not so long ago Sussex’s regular Bank Holiday opponents tended to be Middlesex. The sides would meet at Lord’s over the May holiday with the return fixture at Hove three months later, often attracting big crowds.

The capacity at Hove these days is just under 7,000 and when it’s full to the brim on warm summer evenings for a Twenty20 it creates a fantastic atmosphere.

Mind you, there isn’t a lot of spare room which makes it remarkable to learn that twice as many people have been inside County Ground on occasions in the past.

These days, cricket clubs can work out attendances based on tickets sold in advance and people who pay on the gate, rather like football.

That wasn’t the case in the years either side of the War, when cricket was extremely popular, or in the early 1960s when the advent of one-day cricket drew huge audiences to watch 65-over matches, which would often go on until after 8pm.

In the first year of the Gillette Cup in 1963, Sussex faced Yorkshire in the quarter-finals at Hove. No official crowd figure was given, but those who were there reckon around 15,000 shoe-horned themselves into the County Ground. They paid 5 /- (25p) for the privilege.

Jim Parks, who played in that match which Sussex won by 22 runs, remembers it well.

“I don’t think I played in any better one-day game than the quarter-final against Yorkshire. The ground was packed. There were 15,000 inside and when you consider how relatively small the County Ground is, you can get an idea how busy it was.

“(Sussex skipper) Ted Dexter and I toured with England and were used to big crowds, particularly in places like India, but to a lot of the lads it was a bit of a shock. They just got on with it though.”

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