One of the county’s best-loved sporting occasions takes place on Sunday when MCC pay their annual visit to Arundel Castle to play the Sussex Martlets.
A powerful MCC XI dominated last year’s fixture despite the Martlets setting a combative total of 224 thanks mainly to a century from Marno Pretorius, Mayfield’s South African overseas player. In reply the visitors lost only five wickets, winning at a canter.
This year the Martlets captain, Sam Carter, has again picked a smattering of overseas players to accompany the Sussex League cricketers who form the backbone of his side. He expects Sunday’s fixture to be an evenly-matched contest.
“The MCC members love this fixture – more than 200 players apply for a place in their team – so the opposition are always enormously strong,” says Carter, who will open the batting wearing his club’s distinctive blue and pink cap.
“It’s a daunting task but the Martlets side I’ve picked this year have played a lot of cricket together. We live in hope that one day our esprit de corps will prevail over the might of the biggest cricket club in the country.”
MCC, whose home ground is Lord’s, still play upwards of 500 matches a year but few of them at grounds more picturesque than Arundel Castle – the spiritual home of the Martlets.
Sussex’s wandering club was founded in 1905 and named after the bird on the Sussex coat of arms. A host of first-class players have worn the club’s dark blue, light blue and pink colours and a number of Martlets have gone on to play Test cricket for England, among them legends like CB Fry, Ranjitsinhji, the Nawab of Pataudi, John Snow and Hubert Doggart.
In more recent time, the likes of Robin Martin-Jenkins, the Sussex all-rounder, and John Barclay, the former Sussex captain and MCC president, have played for the amateur club, which retains strong links with Sussex County Cricket Club.
Sunday’s match starts at 11.30am.
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