- Horsham Cricket Club -
With the game due to get underway on Monday 21st July, Mr Beardsmore and I travelled down on Sunday 20th and took up residence in the Wimblehurst Hotel. Our first evening in Horsham was spent getting our bearings and finding the ground, tucked away down a little cul-de-sac with sounds of jazz emanating from the clubhouse.
- West Street -
Horsham is an attractive West Sussex market town which I very much enjoyed exploring. Landmarks to capture my imagination are the Old Town Hall building, West Street with its eclectic mix of shops, Carfax with a pretty bandstand and the Causeway, a historic street leading down to St Mary's Church. There is also a large park featuring an exercise trail and a leisure centre, while pub possibilities include the Lynd Cross (Wetherspoons) and the Old Stout House with its King & Barnes frontage.
- Carfax Bandstand -
Monday morning and time for some cricket so we stock up on supplies and enjoy a sunny stroll around Horsham en route to the ground. The weather really could not be better and the town looked delightful, hence I couldn't resist a few more photographs as the bandstand once again got my attention.
- View from the Railway End -
The scene was set for some festival cricket and the ground certainly had some of the carnival atmosphere I was so hoping for. We had a choice of potential vanatge points but homed in on some seats at the Railway End, looking across towards the town with the spire of St Mary's on the horizon. Dotted around the boundary were various marquees, tents and refreshment concessions, most importantly two ice cream vans which served us very well over the course of the week!
- Inspecting the Pitch -
Sussex won the toss and batted first to close day one on 314 for 7, leaving things evenly poised. On Tuesday the home side progressed to 413 all out, a few too many for Stephen's liking but we still remained hopeful now it was the Bears turn to bat. Ian Westwood and Will Porterfield departed early but a promising partnership between Varun Chopra and Jonathan Trott was progressing nicely until Chopra went for 81. Even so, at 163 for 3 overnight there was still much to be positive about as we enjoyed an evening pint with Dave, sampling Tangle Foot in the Old Stout House and pondering the rules of bar billiards.
- Sculpted Sheep -
The scorching sunshine showed no sign of relenting as the match continued into the third day, Trott making a well-constructed 106 but the Warwickshire innings rather lurched to 333 all out leaving a deficit of 80. Sussex then set about increasing their lead in sprightly fashion, scoring at more than four runs an over with Ed Joyce and Craig Cachopa making half centuries. It was becoming apparent that Warwickshire would face a sizeable fourth innings run chase, but would they secure victory or end up lambs to the slaughter like the wooden examples in Horsham Park?
- The end is nigh -
Thursday 24th July would reveal all as we watched from the Railway End wondering whether a Warwickshire win was possible. Sussex lost a few more wickets in eventually setting a target of 326 runs for victory, but the Bears were 10 for 3 at lunch and never recovered. Tim Ambrose battled hard for his 56, but otherwise the innings folded very tamely at 99 all out - needless to say Stephen was not remotely amused by the carnage we had just witnessed! Despite the defeat, I still thoroughly enjoyed the ambience and atmosphere of watching cricket at Horsham and I hope that the funding can be found to ensure the festival can continue. Sunshine, ice cream and the sound of leather on willow - summer at its finest whatever the result might be!