By John Ashworth

2014 was another very fine season for the Martlets. The curtain came down at Arundel in late September after a fine game against the Eton Ramblers which had been decorated with a sea of conkers at deep extra cover. If only ‘Health and Safety’ had permitted the beer match. Three themes strike me as I reflect on last season and contemplate the next.

The Extended Cricketing Family
Technology means that cricket is truly a year-round game. As our domestic season ends, so starts those in the Southern Hemisphere and we can easily track every ball in every continent. We were soon dismayed to learn that a short ball bowled by Sean Abbott had fatally struck Phillip Hughes playing for South Australia against NSW at the SCG. What made the incident even more poignant was a distant connection to the Martlets, given that 10 of us had played alongside Adam Zampa at Goodwood a few years ago. Zampa was one of Hughes’ team mates that day. We all put our bats out. Nearest neighbour connections are important in molecular chemistry and atomic physics and so too apparently in cricket. In more positive news from Down Under, Ashton Turner, with whom many more of us have played, was again part of the winning Perth Scorchers squad in the Big Bash League. Ashton played in every game.

Data has become an important factor in cricket. Perhaps (at time of writing), too important to Peter Moores. Late last year the ECB issued a report examining participation in recreational cricket. It made for interesting reading. It concluded that 845,000 people played cricket last year, down from 910,000 the previous year. Amongst that population, 250,000played in at least half of the season’s 26 weeks, 400,000 played in around 3-11 games and the remaining 195,000 played only a couple of games. On closer analysis, it also concluded that the weather was the major factor in the decline, not Playstations, or DIY superstores. Whatever the quantitative analysis, I’m thrilled that the qualitative analysis suggests Martlet cricket is of a high and improving standard and appeals to all three categories of seasonal commitment. We play an important role in offering high quality, recreational cricket to talented and clubbable Sussex cricketers and long may that continue.

Our relationship with Arundel is thriving. The newly installed Board of the Friends of Arundel Castle Cricket Club (FACCC) is doing an excellent job. John Stapleton is a fine Chairman, James Ruffey an energetic and innovative Executive Secretary and Mark Harrison (father of our Mike) has the finances under control. Their work is geared to broadening the appeal of the Arundel offering to its members. The Sussex Martlets continue to be an important part of that. We should continue to support them on and off the field. I hope and expect that all Martlet VPs and as many members as possible, are FACCC members.

And finally…
By the time you read this, a new Chairman will be installed. It has been a great privilege to serve on the committee of this great Club and I’m grateful for all the support I’ve received over the years. I have been constantly amazed by the energy and commitment of the committee members and particularly our President Chris Snell, Treasurer Stuart Ritchie and Secretary Mark Trubshaw. I wish them and you, all well. Long live the Sussex Martlets.