On the Road

Sussex vs Warwickshire at Hove, County Championship
Warwickshire 453, Sussex 421
Match Drawn

Not a great deal to say about this one, because not a great deal happened.

Warwickshire won the toss and chose to bat. And then batted for 145 overs. Then Sussex batted for 145 overs. And then on day four there was rain. And that was that.

Again, Sussex let their opponent get out early with a big lead, and again they failed to score quick enough to force a result (though the rain was partially to blame for that, too).

Bell, Wright, Trott, and Ambrose all fell in a blistering ten over spell on the morning of day two, but other than that, Sussex’s attack just let them bat on and on and on. Jordan’s 28-8-73-4 was really the only highlight.

When the home team did finally get a chance to bat on the afternoon of day two, no one really took charge, with the exception of Matt Prior’s blazing 42 off of 40 balls, and the match just sort of fizzled out.

The draw drops the south coasters down to fifth in the table. Next up is their first Yorkshire Bank 40 match vs Worcestershire tomorrow.

**

And now a word about pitch.

Warwickshire coach, Dougie Brown, called it a “disgrace.”

What’s interesting however is that I have not heard a peep from any of the players, either positive or negative, about the playing conditions.

The article I link to above agrees with Brown’s assessment, describing the three days’ play as “turgid”, but putting the blame squarely on the pitch feels a little misguided.

I am not informed enough to make an opinion either way. Though complaints of county pitches are rather common so far this season, and it is shame that the pitches are being cultivated to recreate Test conditions instead of to inspire thrilling cricket. But the point of the County Championship is, for better or for worse, to prepare English players for Tests. And if England retain the Ashes this summer, people will probably stop complaining.

Hopefully, some middle ground can be found in the end.

**

I mentioned in my last review that the idea of a draw will always confound Americans. The fact that the pitch can have such a profound impact on the outcome of a match, however, I think would pique the interest of American sports fans.

Sports in America are very rigid. Every hockey rink is exactly the same; as is every basketball court. Conditions matter in baseball and football, of course, but in no other sport, other than cricket, does the playing surface play such a large role in the game. Some pitches are roads, some swing on day one if it is cloudy but don’t if the sun is out, some have a slope, some crumble on day three, and so on. It is an infinitely fascinating part of the game. One that I am just starting to understand.

And so while it is a disappointment that the pitch was what it was this weekend at Hove, I think it speaks to how infinitely interesting this game really is. It is so very much more than “throw ball, hit ball”.

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