Sussex county cricket teams
Sussex county cricket teams have been traced back to the 17th century but the county's involvement in cricket goes back much further than that. Sussex, jointly with Kent, is the birthplace of the sport. It is widely believed that cricket was invented by children living on the Weald in Saxon or Norman times.
The first definite mention of cricket in Sussex relates to ecclesiastical court records in 1611 which state that two parishioners of Sidlesham in West Sussex failed to attend church on Easter Sunday because they were playing cricket. They were fined 12d each and made to do penance.
Cricket became established in Sussex during the 17th century and the earliest village matches took place before the English Civil War. It is believed that the earliest county teams were formed in the aftermath of the Restoration in 1660. In 1697, the earliest "great match" recorded was for 50 guineas apiece between two elevens at a venue in Sussex.
Matches involving the two great Sussex patrons Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond and Sir William Gage, 7th Baronet were first recorded in 1725. Gage's Sussex team in the 1729 season achieved the sport's earliest known innings victory against Kent. Given that Kent had effectively claimed the title of champion county in 1728, the first known instance of such a claim, Sussex could justifiably claim to have won the title in 1729.
From 1741, Richmond patronised the famous Slindon Cricket Club, whose team was representative of the county and at one stage was proclaimed to be the best team in England. Slindon's best player was the great Richard Newland, supported by his brothers Adam and John; and by the controversial Edward Aburrow, a good cricketer but a known smuggler.
Despite some periods of decline, Sussex continued to be a major cricket county throughout the 18th century. It has been suggested by historians that the Hambledon Club represented Sussex as well as Hampshire for inter-county purposes. Several noted Sussex cricketers, including Richard Nyren and Noah Mann, played for Hambledon.
Cricket in the county saw a revival during the Regency period that coincided with the rise of Brighton as a fashionable resort. Brighton Cricket Club became prominent in major cricket and was for a longtime representative of Sussex as a county (in the same way that Hambledon had been of Hampshire).
Despite a crippling loss of manpower and investment, cricket managed to survive the Napoleonic Wars and much of the credit for keeping the game alive goes to the Brighton club as well as to MCC. Brighton's reward was to see Sussex achieve great prominence in the aftermath of the war and it was the famous Sussex bowlers William Lillywhite and Jem Broadbridge who led the roundarm revolution of the 1820s.
In 1836, the first steps were taken towards forming a county club, the first in cricket history. A meeting in Brighton set up a Sussex Cricket Fund to support county matches. It was from this organisation that Sussex County Cricket Club was formally constituted on 1 March 1839.
For the history of Sussex cricket since the foundation of the county club, see : Sussex County Cricket Club.
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