Martin Read – Sports Reporter
Horsham Cricket Club is thrilled to announce that Sussex first team cricket will be returning to their Cricketfield Road ground next season. A sustainable financial agreement has been reached, and a contract signed. On a Friday or Sunday next July or August, Essex, Hampshire, Kent or Middlesex will visit, for a one day 50 overs a side game. The county fixtures are usually released in November.
Sussex’s return is great news, because sadly, the spectacle of counties playing 1st team cricket at out grounds is an endangered species, some counties only staging home games at their head quarters. Whereas, in addition to Horsham, Sussex will also be playing at Arundel and Eastbourne next season.
Sussex cricket at Horsham – so often a happy hunting ground – has been well supported and the players like playing here. Sussex expressed their disappointment when the 2016 Festival was cancelled, the then CEO Zac Toumazi, saying: “I sincerely hope that this is just a temporary pause in a long – over 100 years – tradition.” There have sometimes been problems with wickets elsewhere in the county, but those at Horsham have been widely praised, with umpires describing them as being “of Test standard.”
Sussex 2nd XI games and a variety of representative matches have continued at Horsham Cricket Club, but, the last time Sussex’s senior side played a competitive match there was in 2015, when the four day game ended in three, before disaster struck when the lucrative one day game against attractive opponents, Lancashire, was completely washed out. And, in the absence of a sponsor, over a century of county cricket at Horsham was halted.
Rob Andrew, Sussex Cricket Chief Executive, expressed his delight, saying: “The return of county cricket to Horsham is brilliant news. Continuing to grow the game across the whole of the county is one of our main ambitions and bringing first-team cricket to another part of Sussex can only help with that. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing top-level athletes perform in the flesh, and it’s brilliant that even more people will now have the opportunity to see our current crop of professionals in action. Sussex already has a rich history of playing at Cricket Field Road and we’re delighted that this will resume next summer. Hopefully it will continue for many more years after that. I thank Chris Shambrook, Horsham CC Club Manager, and Richard Marshall, Horsham CC Cricket Chairman for their work in making our return possible.”
Chris Shambrook said: “Rob Andrew and the team at Sussex have been working alongside the committee here at Horsham on this project for over 18 months. We feel that the right balance has been found, mutually beneficial for both parties. On a personal note I have been coming to the Horsham Festival since the late 70’s – an iconic event with such great memories of matches and star players. On top of that, it’s a superb place for the local cricket community to meet up. Whenever I mention my place of work, the question I always get asked is: ‘when are Sussex coming back?’. Well, now I can proudly tell them!”
Richard Marshall added: “Horsham has a tremendous history of Festival cricket and it is fantastic it is returning. We’ve had a fabulous relationship with Sussex over the years providing players such as Tony Pigott, Robin Martin- Jenkins, Chris Nash, Jofra Archer and we hope to have home grown talents Will Beer, Tom Haines and Tom Clark in the side when Sussex return.”
Sponsorship and hospitality packages for Sussex’s fixture at Horsham next summer are available. If you or your business are interested, please email email@example.com or call Chris Shambrook on 01403 254628.