Cricket, by Martin Read –
Horsham Cricket Club is preparing to stage one of the highlights of Sussex County Cricket Club’s year.
The annual Festival of Cricket starts on Wednesday, May 22, when Sussex start a four-day LV County Championship match against Somerset, before Kent Spitfires visit Horsham in the Yorkshire Bank 40 competition on Sunday, May 26.
Zac Toumazi, Sussex’s new chief executive, told The District Post: “I’m a huge fan of festival cricket. It’s very important and exciting for Sussex to bring the game to the north of the county.
“Good cricket is played at Horsham and I can’t wait to really get out and meet everyone at the ground.”
Somerset are one of the most attractive sides in the country, with the destructive batting of Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter, exploits of all-rounders Peter Trego and Alfonso Thomas, explosive bowling from Steve Kirby and prime emerging talent, notably Josh Buttler.
Inconsistent Kent, under new captain James Tredwell, are more difficult to quantify. But experienced players, including former captain Rob Key and 2005 Ashes wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, together with entertaining young bloods, ensure they are well worth watching.
Key is no stranger to Horsham as he used to watch sister Liz captaining the Horsham Ladies hockey team.
Sussex began the season by crushing Yorkshire in the four-day format and have a good track record at Horsham.
New signing Chris Jordan has been in the wickets and Luke Wells, who starred with the bat at Horsham last year, scored a double hundred at The Oval. Former Horsham player Ben Brown has also contributed 50s.
With Ed Joyce likely to be on international duty for Ireland, Chris Nash should fulfil his long-held ambition of captaining Sussex at his home club. Locals are also hoping to see Horsham regular Will Beer playing on Sunday at least.
The festival entails detailed planning by Horsham Cricket Club, a labour of love involving a veritable army of cheerful volunteers.
President Hugh Thomas described it as “the pinnacle of our season” and groundsman Lawrence Gosling added: “We prepare two wickets for the festival and aim for a good contest between bat and ball. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s the highlight of my year.”
Former Horsham captain Richard Marshall, who will work alongside Gosling at the festival, said: “Two good teams are coming and the ground is looking a picture, so bring it on!”
Detailed arrangements are again being managed by club stalwart Barry Peay, who first played for Horsham in 1960 and has masterminded the festival almost as long.
He said: “We work closely with Sussex and will soon be erecting the marquees and transforming the ground to provide a special Horsham experience for players and spectators alike.”
There is no more pleasant walk to any cricket venue than down The Causeway, through the churchyard and across the river. Visitors are rewarded with enchanting views of the tree-lined ground, with the backdrop of Denne Hill and St Mary’s Church.
And there’s more to the festival than cricket. Whether succumbing to delightful homemade cakes in the tea tent, sampling refreshment at the bar or just enjoying a sociable stroll around the ground, a warm welcome beckons at Horsham.