History of Rottingdean Cricket Club


The History of Rottingdean Cricket Club

Rottingdean Cricket Club is set in a beautiful coastal village just outside Brighton, East Sussex and is one of the oldest in the country. It is known to have been in existence in 1758 when a match was played at Rottingdean on 28 June where players from Newick, Chailey, Lindfield and Hamsey opposed a side representative of Lewes, Brighthelmstone and Rottingdean. The stakes were a guinea a man which was quite a considerable sum in those days.

The first recorded match played by Rottingdean alone was on 14th May 1759 but there is a reason to suppose that the Rottingdean Cricket Club had already been in existence for some years by then although the number of matches which it had played was probably few. In this game in May 1759, Rottingdean played Brighthelmstone and the stakes were £5 a side. The captain of the village side was Steyning Beard. When a commemoration match was played two hundred years later, the Rottingdean side was again captained by a Beard, a direct descendent of the original skipper. In the 18th century the wicket consisted of only two stumps, instead of three, the bat was curved at the end and the score was kept by making notches on a stick.

The Rottingdean cricket ground at this time was at Balsdean which is about two miles eastwards up the valley from the present ground.  The Rottingdean cricketers decided to move to the downland above the village near to the 1802 Smock Mill and throughout the 19th century, and until the outbreak of the First World War, the Rottingdean cricket ground was on top of this promontory of the Downs in the shadow of the mill’s sails. It was from here that the legendary biggest hit in the history of cricket was made when a batsman scored 67 off a single shot (all run!). The ball was hit down one slope of the Downs, was retrieved by a fielder who then threw it in so wildly that it disappeared down the other side and it required nearly the whole team throwing in relays, to return it to the wicket keeper.

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Below is a selection of photographs taken at the opening of the Cricket Club Exhibition in 2013.

With thanks to Rob Boddie SCC Museum Curator
With thanks to Rob Boddie SCC Museum Curator