History-making cricket match in Worthing

The Sussex team

The Sussex team

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Fifty years ago, as a photographer for the then Worthing Gazette, I was at the Manor Sports Ground, Broadwater Road, Worthing, with sports writer Ray Potten, to witness what turned out to be a history-making cricket match.

Worthing were hosting, for the 22nd year, a Sussex County Cricket Week.

Ian Thomson

Ian Thomson

In the first three day match, Sussex played against Warwickshire County Cricket Club and for the second match they had to face the county team from Nottinghamshire.

On Saturday, June 6, 1964, on a windy day with rain forecast, umpires John Arnold and Arthur Fagg were joined by the Sussex acting captain, Alan Oakman, and visiting captain Mike Smith.

Oakman tossed the coin and Smith correctly called heads and elected to bat.

The Sussex team – consisting of Ken Suttle, Richard Langridge, Les Lenham, Alan Oakman, Graham Cooper, Bob Pountain, Ian Thomson, Tony Buss, John Snow, Ron Bell and Terry Gunn – were in the field and were joined by Warwickshire’s opening batsmen, Horner and Barber.

David Nicholls

David Nicholls

Oakman elected Ian Thomson to open the bowling from the downs end and Ron Bell from the sea end.

This was one of Thomson’s favourite grounds as, 11 years before, he was awarded his county cap at the Manor Ground, and, in 1963, achieved five wickets against Northamptonshire.

By mid-afternoon, the rain had stopped play, and early tea was taken.

Umpires Arnold and Fagg inspected the ground and play was abandoned for the day with the score at 103 for 2.

Horner was caught and bowled for 2 and Ibadulla was caught by Tony Buss for 17.

Ian Thomson was the bowler for both wickets.

Fifty years ago, county matches were played over three days, with no county matches on Sundays.

Monday, June 8, was day two and the sun shone all day with a strong wind, making it very chilly for watching.

This was to be a most exciting day, with 22 wickets falling.

Warwickshire continued to bat from their overnight score. Thomson soon had Barber caught by Ken Suttle. Three more wickets fell in the next 70 minutes, all for Ian Thomson. The four wickets only cost him seven runs.

Tom Cartwright stayed at the crease and watched three more wickets fall to Ian Thomson, but was finally stumped by Gunn, to give Thomson all ten Warwickshire wickets.

Cartwright was the first to congratulate Thomson on his feat.

Ian Thomson led the Sussex team off the field, and was given a standing ovation from the members, and a fanfare of car horns from the cars around the ground.

Warwickshire were all out for 196 in 78.2 overs, with Thomson taking all ten wickets for 49 runs.

He was the first Sussex bowler to take all ten wickets since G.H. Bland took 10 for 48 against Kent at Tonbridge, in 1899.

Thomson’s previous best bowling figures were 8 wickets for 79 runs against Worcestershire at Hove, in 1956.

Sussex then came out to bat; they were missing two of their stars, Ted Dexter and Jim Parks, who were absent on Test duty.

Sussex were all out for 120 in 57.5 overs, with Brown taking 4 wickets for 50 runs.

Only four batsmen managed to get into double figures; Ken Suttle, Alan Oakman, John Snow and Ron Bell.

Warwickshire then batted for the second time with a lead of 76.

They were all out for 129 in 50.2 overs, with Ian Thomson taking 5 for 26, giving him 15 wickets in the match.

The final wickets fell on Tuesday morning, in good weather conditions, and Sussex were set a score of 206 to win the match, in three and half hours.

Sussex were then all out for 23 in 12.2 overs, with not one player getting into double figures, and Bannister taking 6 for 16.

The blame for 40 wickets falling in such a short time, 22 of them on the second day, was due to the bad weather on the Saturday afternoon.

The wicket broke up and the troublesome area was a foot square at the south end of the wicket.

Mike Smith, captain of Warwickshire, said: “No one can be blamed when a wicket is affected by rain.”

Alan Oakman said it was not the worst he had played on in his 17-year career.

Head groundsman Les Tier and his staff deserved praise for making the pitch playable.

Sussex County Cricket Club never returned to the Manor Ground, but medium pace bowler Ian Thomson will never forget his ten wicket achievement.