The earliest definite reference to cricket occurs in 1598 and makes clear that the sport was being played c. 1550, but its true origin is a mystery. All that can be said with a fair degree of certainty is that its beginning was earlier than 1550, somewhere in south-east England within the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey. Unlike other games with batsmen, bowlers and fielders, such as stoolball and rounders, cricket can only be played on relatively short grass, especially as the ball was delivered along the ground until the 1760s. Therefore, forest clearings and land where sheep had grazed would have been suitable places to play. The first definite mention of cricket in Sussex relates to ecclesiastical court records in 1611 which state that two parishioners of Sidlesham in West Sussex failed to attend church on Easter Sunday because they were playing cricket. They were fined 12d each and made to do penance. Cricket became established in Sussex during the 17th century and the earliest village matches took place before the English Civil War. It is believed that the earliest county teams were formed in the aftermath of the Restoration in 1660. In 1697, the earliest "great match" recorded was for 50 guineas apiece between two elevens at a venue in Sussex: it was possibly an inter-county match and it has been classified as the earliest known major match in cricket history.
Matches involving the two great Sussex patrons Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond and Sir William Gage, 7th Baronet were first recorded in 1725. The earliest known use of Sussex in a match title occurred in 1729. From 1741, Richmond patronised the famous Slindon Cricket Club, whose team was representative of the county. After the death of Richmond in 1751, Sussex cricket declined until the emergence of the Brighton club at its Prince of Wales Ground in 1790. This club sustained cricket in Sussex through the Napoleonic Wars and, as a result, the county team was very strong in the 1820s when it included the great bowlers Jem Broadbridge and William Lillywhite. On 17 June 1836, the Sussex Cricket Fund was set up to support county matches, after a meeting in Brighton. This led directly to the formation on 1 March 1839 of Sussex County Cricket Club, England's oldest county club. Sussex CCC played its initial first-class match versus Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) at Lord's on 10 & 11 June 1839.
The Sussex crest depicts a mythological, footless bird called the Martlet, and is similar to the Coat of arms of Sussex. Capped players have six martlets on their sweaters, and the crest with gold trimming on their caps; uncapped players instead have only the club crest on their left breast, and white trimming on their caps. The Club has used four cricket grounds in Brighton & Hove - matches were played on a ground donated by the then Prince Of Wales and the ground was fittingly called 'The Prince of Wales Ground (where Park Crescent now lies), Temple Fields (where Montpelier Crescent now lies), Royal Brunswick Ground (where Third and Fourth Avenues are situated) and finally in 1871 the ground in Eaton Road was acquired from the Trustees of the Stanford Estate. Turf from the Royal Brunswick Grounds was transferred and re-laid on the square.
In 1872, George "Farmer" Bennett became the first batsman in first-class cricket to be given out handled ball during a match between Kent and Sussex at the County Ground. In 1873, Sussex bowled Worcestershire out for 19 at Hove. In 1884–85, the public raised £4,400 towards the purchase of the ground, with the Earl of Sheffield contributing an additional £600. During the 1890s, the County Ground was also used as a football ground for teams from the Brighton Area, including Brighton United of the Southern League (until they went bust in 1900), and Brighton Athletic of the East Sussex League. The ground was also the venue for the Sussex lawn tennis championship meetings in 1893 and 1899, and in 1948, the County Ground also hosted a rugby union match between Brighton and a Midland Bank team.
In the 20th century, the ground was used for some other cricket matches, such as a charity match in 1927 between the "Jockeys" and the "Racing Press", in aid of the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Royal Alexandra Hospital for children, and an annual match between local commercial travellers and grocers, nicknamed "Travellers v. Grocers"; in 1925, the match was won by the Travellers by 1 run.
The 1st Central County Ground, Hove is an accessible ground for disabled supporters and visitors. There is ramped access to the rear of the Spen Cama Pavilion next to the Aerotron Indoor School, and there is also a lift in the new entrance at the rear of the Pavilion into the Long Room/Dining Room area of the building. Wheelchair users who aren't members can sit in the disabled access areas which are to the North of the Spen Cama Pavilion and to the North of the main scoreboard. Please speak to one of the stewards on your arrival for more information. Disabled parking is very limited and is allocated on a first come first served basis. For more information on individual matches, please contact the club on 0844 264 0202. The Focus Group Boundary Rooms are also wheelchair-friendly with ramped access at the entrance next to the South Stand/Media Centre. For blind/partially sighted customers, SCCC offers complimentary ear pieces for BBC Sussex's commentary– these are available from the Club shop. Assistance dogs are welcome, speak to a steward should you require a bowl of water. All matches are broadcast through BBC local radio.
Location : The 1st Central County Ground, Eaton Road, Hove, East Sussex BN3 3AN
Transport: Hove (National Rail) 10 minutes or 7 bus. Bus Routes: 7, 21 and 21A stop outside.
Capacity : 7,000
Opening Times: Daily 09:30 to 17:00
Tickets County : Adults £16.00; Seniors £11.00; Juniors £6.00
Tickets T20 Blast : Adults £21.00; Juniors £16.00
Tickets One Day: Adults £16.00; Juniors £6.00
Tickets Museum: Include with match tickets. Open through intervals.
Tel: 0844 264 0202