Rain causes first opening day wash-out in cricket league’s history

FOR THE first time in the Sussex Invitation League’s history there wasn’t a ball played on the opening day of the season as the heavy rain caused a complete wash-out.

None of Saturday’s 40 scheduled games across the ten divisions saw any action at all as the soggy weather throughout the week spilled over into the weekend.

Horsham’s game against Billingshurst and Roffey’s trip to Three Bridges on Sunday in the National KO Cup also fell foul of the rain as the opening of the new cricket season was pushed back a week.

Back in 1992, and before merging with the Sussex Cricket League, the Invitation League containing 17 1st XI sides and 17 2nd XI sides saw the first full weekend of matches completely rained off, though the week before there had been some matches already played.

Two years later, in 1994 the opening round of league matches was completely washed-out. But there was some action with Findon and Ifield contesting some 30 overs in the rain on an artificial pitch before the game was finally abandoned.

The start of the 1994 season was particularly hampered by the weather with no matches completed at all over the first three Saturdays. Some 14 games were completed on the fourth weekend but there was another total wipe-out on the fifth weekend as the weather wreaked havoc.

Long-standing fixture secretary Laurie Claydon said: “This is the first time the league has seen no play whatsoever on the first Saturday of the season.

“In 1992 the first full weekend was rained off but there were matches played the week before, and although in 1994 all the games were cancelled there was some 30 overs of play between Findon and Ifield on an artificial pitch.

“Because of the situation with the weather that season there were five 2nd XI teams who didn’t play a single game in the opening five weeks. The only consolation was we didn’t have to rearrange fixtures because the points are shared, but I remember that year being particularly drastic.”

The most extreme weather disruption occurred back in 1979, the Invitation League’s first year in existence, when there was snow on the opening weekend in May.

The two games still went ahead however, between Arundel and Broadwater’s 1st and 2nd XI, though a misunderstanding of the rules meant the 1st XI game had to later be replayed.