Harty on the Ashes and Albion’s Solly March

CONGRATULATIONS to chairman Jim May and all at Sussex CCC for, despite the horrendous weather on Saturday afternoon, almost three days of entertaining cricket against the Aussies over the weekend.

Even allowing for the aforementioned wet weather, I enjoyed a great day out on Saturday as guest of Nsure, and, during one of the extended rain breaks, I became embroiled in a very interesting discussion at the bar.

As much as we all enjoy bashing the Aussies at cricket, there has to be an argument for them enjoying, albeit after back-to-back Ashes wins, some kind of renaissance.

Otherwise, a sustained period of English domination could result in one of sport’s long-standing and greatest contests almost dumbing down.

I appreciate it wasn’t that long ago that Australia were dominant for what seemed to be a long time but, while our cricket at that time was on the wane, it was bad, but in the grand scheme of things not the end of the world.

Apart from Kylie, Neighbours, a bit of sunshine and an above-average rugby team, the cricket is all the Aussies have got. We, on the other hand, have a multitude of things to take our minds off the cricket not going that well.

With the rise of t20, and specifically the IPL, there is an argument that Test cricket for the masses faces a real threat of extinction – the only thing on the face of it bucking that trend is a competitive Ashes series.

For all those cricket fans wanting a 5-0 whitewash this summer and then much of the same Down Under, perhaps you should be careful what you wish for.

On a cold November night a couple of years ago, the Worthing under-18 side travelled to the Dripping Pan for a Ryman Youth League top-of-the-table clash against Lewes.

The Rebels side had the best of the early exchanges, but then Lewes created five chances and no prizes for guessing the half-time score. Despite a spirited fight-back, the game ended 6-3.

Observers on both sides said the difference between the two sides that night was Rooks midfielder, Solly March, who destroyed top-of-the-table Worthing, bagging a hat-trick in the process.

On Tuesday, March, while playing for the Albion, scored one of the, if not the best, goal ever seen at the Amex with his second-half equaliser against Premier League Norwich.

Back in November 2011, having, I believe, been released as a youngster by Brighton, March was learning his trade in the Ryman, clearly still on the Albion’s radar, and an example to every lad released prior to the age of 16 by a pro club.

It may feel like the ultimate rejection at the time. But, going back to Ryman Youth level is a way forward and a shop window still observed by all the professional clubs.

Whether March starts at Elland Road on Saturday is immaterial. I believe he will feature in the Albion’s long-term plans, and sets an example to every aspiring local footballer playing at Ryman or even County Youth League level. There is a way back with hard work and dedication.