Being a Worcestershire man, I like to see the smaller counties do well. I’m a sucker for the underdog. So I was really sad to see Sussex relegated from the first division of the championship yesterday.
After Worcestershire’s relegation last week, one wonders whether the larger counties with test grounds will continue to dominate English cricket, while the relatively impoverished clubs struggle to compete. It didn’t escape my attention that Surrey, another big club, will replace Sussex in next year’s first division.
Hampshire deserve a lot of credit for their great escape. It’s a far from vintage Hants side so their members will be as pleased as punch. It’s just a shame that it has come at the expense of one of the more likeable counties.
I’ve been an admirer of Sussex for some time. I’m exiled in Kent these days (I’m a short train ride into London) so I tend to keep an eye on the clubs close to me. Sussex have often punched above their wight over the years and I’ve always been a big fan of Ed Joyce.
It’s unbelievable that Joyce has never played a test. He’s scored 16,500 first class runs at an average of 47 with forty one hundreds. Talk about prolific. He’s also scored three ODI tons for England.
I’ve also enjoyed watching Chris Nash over the years. He’s always been a very good player. Michael Yardy’s struggles off the field also make it impossible not to root for the guy. That’s three popular cricketers right there. It was heart warming that Yardy made a few runs yesterday in what will be his final professional dig.
It’s hard to know exactly where it’s gone wrong for Sussex this year. Although they could’ve used more runs from the aforementioned Joyce and Nash, Luke Wright and Ben Brown both scored over 1,000 championship runs with healthy averages. Matt Machan also had a decent year.
I imagine the bowling let them down more than anything. Although the reliable Aussie Steve Magoffin took 69 wickets at 24 and Oliver Robinson took 46 wickets at 25, the support was lacking:
Chris Jordan averaged 29 with the ball but only played six games. Ajmal Shahzad also made an impression, but played just five times. Tymal Mills was also a write off. One wonders whether he’ll ever stay fit. That lad’s as brittle as filo pastry.
Although Worcestershire’s relegation was to be expected – we have an incredibly young team and I was just happy that we showed some fight at times – Sussex’s fate was avoidable to a large extent. I for one am sad to see them go.
Whereas Worcs have a lot of exciting young players – keep an eye on Tom Fell and Joe Clarke in particular – Sussex aren’t so blessed. With Ed Joyce now 37, and Yardy stepping away from the game altogether, I wonder whether they’ll be able to bounce back quickly?