Sad days but Her Majesty was honoured memorably
This has been a surreal week for the country and for sport after the sad passing of the Queen. It was known that she had been ill for a few days and that the doctors were monitoring her. I think everyone was trying to figure out that if she actually passes away, what’s going to happen? How are the sporting events going to work? Everyone was trying to figure out if the Premier League would go ahead and whether or not we were actually going to play on Monday in the County Championship and you had the Test match to consider. But those decisions got made fairly quickly after the news broke — obviously a sad day for the country, you could feel it everywhere you went.
England lost two days of the deciding Test match against South Africa, if you consider the first day which was rained out, but Ben Stokes made the comment: “Three-day game, I know what I’ll be doing.” So it was always going to be a case of England going out and chasing that win, and they played that style and that brand of cricket that they had been playing in all summer and came out on top.
It was a great win to effectively get it done in just over two days but overall you could still tell that everyone’s mood was a bit down; just a bit more shocked than anything, really. It almost feels like the Queen was a part of everyone in the cricket community or within the Sussex cricket community. She was obviously part of everyone’s life, having been on the throne for 70 years. So, yeah, it was just a bit of “Did that really happen?” and “Wow, she’s actually dead”. The television has been flooded with memories, just going through her life, how she served the country and how much she enjoyed her sport. She enjoyed her horses and racing, but she watched quite a bit of cricket. I think she used to be quite often be at the first Test of the summer or some of the Ashes Tests. But, yeah, a sad day for the country, and I think the way the England team went about their work definitely honoured her life.
Championship matches resumed on Monday after the break for the Royal London One-Day Cup, and it was disappointing to be left out of the XI for the match at home to Worcestershire. We’ve had a bit of a tough start in the match. In September, you start at 10.30am, so there’s a bit more dew and the ball nibbles around more. But we did well to fight back and get a decent score in the first innings . The wicket has flattened out and Worcestershire were off to a decent start [289 for two at close of second day]. I missed out for selection this week with a few players coming back, including Jack Carson making his season debut after injury, but it is an opportunity to play in the second team and try to get back in for the last two championship matches of the season. Being up in Durham [from September 19 to 22] could be a different team dynamic, so I have to just try to make sure I get myself in the best position possible in my cricket to go when that chance comes.
We are actually in the middle of a second XI game now against Northamptonshire. We haven’t played much of it because of the weather, but we managed to get some cricket on the first day. It was a pretty tricky wicket. You couldn’t really score as fluently as you wanted to, and I nicked off for 14 from 44 balls. Hopefully we can get another two days in and we can get some bowling and a bit more batting under my belt.
I have made some progress this season. Started pretty well with the bat and then we found ourselves in some sort of tricky conditions and then managed to work a few things out midway. I’ve built a little bit of momentum into a few games and managed to get some nice scores. I feel personally that my bowling has been very good this year; it’s been a massive improvement in all three formats. So, yeah, definitely a lot of progress, a lot of positives and a lot to build on for the winter. It’s still a lot to work on. I know the areas that I want to tackle real hard this winter and just looking forward to seeing the progress again come April 1 or that first week in April when we're back on out on the park playing County Championship cricket again.
This has been some season for unavailability, as some guys have missed quite a lot of it. Jack [Carson] has been out all for the whole season, so it was nice to see him come back and do well with a fifty against Worcestershire and a couple of wickets. He has worked very hard and deserves to be back in the team. I’m very happy for him to see him taking wickets and scoring runs. But there have been more than a few guys who have had stop-start seasons, which is not ideal.
Obviously, you want to just build some momentum and go all the way through, but that's part of sport and those are some of the things you’ve got to live with. But, with a winter of probably not having to worry about Covid and the things that have set a few people back in terms of the amount time spent training with the group and individually, I think we could definitely see a massive improvement in a lot of people’s skills, a lot of people’s fitness, and improvement in the group as a whole because we would be able to have more players available and be able to push harder and potentially push to win some trophies.
• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith