Sussex were recently crowned champions in the county Second XI Twenty20 competition, beating Durham in the final on Friday June 10.
That day saw the inaugural Finals Day of the competition, held at Fenner’s, and taking part were the second elevens from Durham, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Sussex.
It was the culmination of a hectic three-week schedule for the young cricketers and triallists in the various county second teams, after playing a series of back-to-back 20-over matches during a zonal round in the new competition, with the sides meeting each other in two matches in a day at grounds all over the country.
Playing twice on the same day at the same ground is not a new idea, as there are instances in the past when exhibition matches were staged if a Test match, or another major game, finished early, largely to entertain the crowd with a light-hearted ‘beer match’.
But what about playing a limited-overs match in the evening after completing a County Championship match earlier in the afternoon, with both games taking place on different grounds?
That’s exactly what happened in June 1936 when Gloucestershire travelled across the Severn Estuary to play Glamorgan at Newport.
The Championship match at Rodney Parade duly saw the visitors complete victory on the final day, before both teams travelled a few miles to Rogerstone where they played a time-limit match in the early evening at the club ground on the northern outskirts of Newport.
Each side batted for a maximum of an hour, and the proceeds from their efforts went towards Glamorgan player Jack Mercer’s benefit year.
Some county cricketers have even taken part in another sporting contest on the same day as playing in a Championship match.
Back in 1975 Chris Balderstone hit the headlines when on Monday, September 15 he played county cricket during the day for Leicestershire, against Derbyshire at Chesterfield, before driving to Doncaster – some thirty miles away – where he played League football for Doncaster Rovers against Brentford.
Balderstone had been 51 not out at the close of play at Queen’s Park, and the switch between sporting codes did him no harm whatsoever, as the following morning he went on to reach three figures – one of 32 first-class hundreds in his career – before taking three wickets to help wrap up a 135-run victory for Leicestershire as the East Midlands side clinched their first County Championship title.
Although it attracted plenty of media interest, Balderstone’s feat was not unique as on August 30, 1920, Jack Durston played for Middlesex against Surrey in a vital County Championship contest at Lord’s, before travelling east to play in goal for Brentford against Millwall in what was only Brentford’s second Football League match.
Durston had been given special dispensation from fielding in Surrey’s innings so that he could head off for his football exploits. However, the following morning he was back at Lord’s to resume his cricketing commitments with Middlesex in their title decider against their South London neighbours.
The fast bowler duly claimed the prized scalp of Surrey captain Percy Fender as Middlesex won by 55 runs to lift the county crown.