Work is well underway for Sussex’s return at Festival of Cricket week

Horsham CC's Ellis Hatter (Asst Head Groundsman) and Barry Peay  (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150623-114618008

Horsham CC's Ellis Hatter (Asst Head Groundsman) and Barry Peay (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150623-114618008

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Work is well underway at Cricketfield Road for Sussex’s return and this year’s Horsham Festival of Cricket – which takes place in July.

Horsham Cricket Club will again host the county side in a four-day LV= County Championship game and a white-ball One-Day Cup match.

The ever-popular outfield clashes attract bumper crowds to the town as First Class cricket proves popular with the locals.

Sussex will host a Nottinghamshire side, that impressed at Horsham in a Royal London One-Day Cup match last year, in a four-day match starting on Sunday, July 19.

Mark Robinson’s side then return to Hove on Friday for a T20 Blast match with Hampshire, before making the short trip back up to West Sussex on Sunday, July 26, for a 50-over match with Lancashire.

Festival organiser Barry Peay said: “We always look forward to it and we feel it is the biggest sporting weekend in the district – although Horsham District Council always say it is the Italian weekend.

“It is so important to the club and we feel we do a good job - particularly by providing excellent pitches.

“From our side, the pitches are playing well, which is a good thing.

“The work we did on them during the autumn of 2013 is bearing fruit. They were good last year and look very good this year. From that point of view, we are hopeful.

“We are hopeful we will again be able to provide what Sussex want.

“The oddity this year is because of the Sunday start. It is the first time that we have had that and because of a T20 game on Friday at Hove, it has caused some problems with the moving of boundary boards and things.

“Last year, we were able to play some club games at home and this year that is not possible on both Saturdays on July 18 or 25. Sussex have been helpful with their Blackstone ground on one weekend, and it’s just one of those additional obstacles.”

Despite that, lots of planning on and off the field has gone on to make sure the event runs as smoothly as ever.

Last year the wicket won national acclaim and helped Sussex and Horsham groundsman James Askew to clinch third place in the Outground of the Year competition.

Peay is also hopefully they can pull in a few more faces than last year for the One-Day Cup match against Lancs on the second Sunday.

With the championship matches now starting on Sundays, the vision has been for T20 matches to resort back to Friday nights and played in concrete stadiums.

The quick-fire format of the game pulls in the biggest crowds and is something that Horsham have missed over the past couple of years.

Peay added: “We were perhaps a little disappointed last year with the 50-over attendance.

“I think that reflects on the 10.45am start instead of 1.45pm, with people happy to give up half a day rather than a whole day, but we are hoping we can pull some more in.”

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