Horsham Festival of Cricket return boosted by no schedule change

Wells facing for Sussex at the Horsham ground. Pic Steve Robards. SR1517287 SUS-150721-083134001
Wells facing for Sussex at the Horsham ground. Pic Steve Robards. SR1517287 SUS-150721-083134001
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Chances of the Horsham Festival of Cricket returning next year have been boosted by news the ECB will not revise the domestic schedule in 2016.

Plenty of suggestions had been muted of changes to the fixture list that could have seen Division 1 of the County Championship reduced to eight teams to step towards a city-based T20 format.

Horsham CC's Ellis Hatter (Asst Head Groundsman) and Barry Peay  (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150623-114713008

Horsham CC's Ellis Hatter (Asst Head Groundsman) and Barry Peay (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150623-114713008

Ahead of their relegation, this would have been extremely likely to have had a knock-on effect on Sussex County Cricket Club’s out ground matches and thrown the future of the four-day festival game at Cricketfield Road in doubt.

But with what is an at least temporary u-turn made in the ECB hierarchy - and backed by Sussex, chances of next year’s festival taking place have been boosted, furthered by Mark Robinson’s side dropping down into Division 2

Festival organiser Barry Peay said: “A number of proposals to modify the shape of the First Class programme, associated with the admirable aim of improving England’s performance in international 50-over competitions, were made to the First Class counties chairmen.

“However, after widening the debate within the counties, a number of them have rejected major change in 2016—preferring some minor tinkering to the shape of the fixture list next year and postponing major restructuring to 2017, after the current three-year agreed programme will have ended.

“We hope this means the Horsham Festival will be preserved for another year.

“The shape of the First Class fixture list being continued for one more year is perhaps the biggest factor and there is also the possibility of a one-day game with Division 1 opposition.”

The provisional County Championship fixtures are released in late November, where dates and venues will be confirmed.

And there are hopes that the Horsham crowd could be boosted by the prospect of facing different opposition next year.

Peay added: “First Class cricket at Horsham has always had a loyal following and perhaps the chance of seeing different opposition will be an additional attraction. However, the perennial hope of completing a full tick list of First Class counties by having Yorkshire as Championship visitors will have to wait another year.

“Promotion back to Division 1 must be the major objective in the minds of Sussex supporters.”

Accounts from the rain-effected 2015 festival have shown an overall profit of £8,000 - with Horsham’s share of this £2,000.

This comes from admission fees and ground parking and excludes other fundraising and food sales at the ground.

The organisers are pleased with the total considering a day’s play was lost from the championship match and the Royal London One-Day Cup match on Sunday with Lancashire was abandoned with no play due to the weather.

Peay added: “This reflects tight cost control by Sussex in managing the costs of setting up the festival.”

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