The History of Ditchling Cricket Club

The Nolans watching Afghanistan CF
The Nolans watching Afghanistan destroy us!

"This Sussex village is cricket mad!" So wrote the Hon. Gerald French in 1938 when describing Ditchling's 90 run victory over his MCC side. In fact, a large part of the match report in his book, The Corner Stone of English Cricket, is devoted to describing the dancing and festivities in the village hall after the game and if the truth were known, it is still a fair reflection on a club which likes to enjoy it's cricket to the full - both on and off the field of play.

We do not know exactly when Ditchling Cricket Club played its first game. For a long time we thought a match against Staplefield, in 1837 was the first. Then several years ago, we came across some score cards for a couple of matches between Ditchling and Brighton in July 1818. If you visit Ditchling Museum, you can see a poster advertising this match, including a statement that beers and wines will be provided by The Bull Inn, Ditchling.

The Introduction of league cricket a decade or so ago was not initially viewed with enthusiasm as it threatened our fixture list of hard-fought 'friendlies', played against the surrounding Sussex villages, in some cases, for over a hundred years. Nevertheless, after a reluctant start, the Club has adapted successfully to the demands of this rather more professional form of the game and now competes (in its own inimitable way) in the East Sussex Cricket league. Each week the club fields two Saturday league sides, a 'Strollers' side playing firendlies at our Plumpton pitch and a family orientated Sunday XI.

League cricket may have changed some aspects of the Club but the true character of Ditchling can still be seen every weekend and especially during our annual Cricket Week, when the matches are spirited, cavalier and nobody willingly settles for a draw.

In June 2006 Ditchling Cricket Club played a historic international fixture against the Afghanistan national side. The match was the last fixture in the Afghanistan Cricket Federation's inaugural tour to England. Having defeated Leicester, Essex, Loughborough University and The Army it was billed as a chance for this emerging nation to taste English village cricket in its purist form.

The club now regularly entertain fixtures against the MCC, The Royal Navy, Sussex CCC and a Celebrity Sporting XI.

In 2009, Murray Goodwin brought the Sussex Sharks to play the Ditchling Black Dogs in a Twenty20 match proceeding The Sharks debut in the T20 Champions League. Although Ditchling were narrowly beaten it proved to be another memorable day at The Ling.

In July of 2012 Ditchling Cricket Club hosted a Twenty20 fixture against Sussex to raise money for St Peter & St James Hospice and Sussex Cricket in The Community Trust.

The Sussex side was captained by Mike Yardy and included players who helped Sussex win their first County Championship in 2003 including Murray Goodwin, Keith Greenfield and Karl Hopkinson.

But the biggest star of the Day was none other than Tony Greig, who played for Sussex from 1965 – 78 and England from 1972 -77 captaining our national side  from 1975 -77. He was an outstanding all round cricketer and no stranger to controversy after the now infamous run out of West Indian test player Alvin Kallicharran in 1974. The dismissal of Kallicharran lead to a siege of the Queens Park Oval in Trinidad and to the first ever reinstatement of a batsman after Greig withdrew his appeal for the run out. Sadly Tony passed away a couple of months later. A legend of the game who enjoyed his return to Sussex with us here at Ditchling.

This year the Saturday 1st XI are playing in the Central Sussex League Division Six and the 2nd XI are in Central Division Ten. We have a number of junior sides playing league and cup matches and our Mid Week XI and Sunday XI continue to play entertaining friendlies.