2013 marks the 50th anniversary of one-day cricket in England and Sussex made an impression right at the outset of this new version of the game.
In a move to improve county cricket attendances, which had declined steadily from their post-War boom, the authorities had inaugurated the One-Day Knockout after a limited overs competition among East Midlands’ counties in 1962 had proved a success.
Gillette offered to sponsor the competition and were surprised that their rather paltry offer of just £6,500 was accepted. They were expecting to pay at least double that!
In the original version of the one-day game, each team batted for 65 overs and games would often go on until well after 8pm but the crowds loved it and flocked to venues.
Sussex knocked out Kent in the first round of the inaugural 1963 tournament at Tunbridge Wells, Ken Suttle making 104 in their total of 314 for 7. Sussex’s skipper Ted Dexter had quickly grasped the nuances of the one-day game and posted fielders around the boundary to protect their total. Sussex ended up winning by 72 runs but the Kent committee were furious and wrote a letter to Sussex complaining about Dexter’s ‘unsporting tactics.’
Sussex weren’t too troubled by Kent’s actions and a fortnight later, on June 12 1963, a crowd of 15,000 watched their quarter-final against Yorkshire at Hove. Sussex made 292 for 4 but a young Geoff Boycott looked to be leading Yorkshire to victory when he was run out for 71 and Sussex won by 22 runs and were in the semi-finals.
Of course, recent history informs us that Sussex have gone from strength to strength in the one day game leading to their Champions League appearance in 2009. Roll on the Twenty20 season!