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Press release

  • 24 October 2007

Howzat! First innings for university’s all-weather wicket

Rosalie, members of St Matthias Under 14s and Under 16s teams and the county championship trophy

Rosalie, members of St Matthias Under 14s and Under 16s teams and the county championship trophy

England cricketer Rosalie Birch has bowled the first ball to mark the installation of the new all-weather cricket strip at the University of Sussex.

The pitch is the result of a partnership between the University, which provided the site, and Brighton Saturday league club St Matthias CC, which raised £6,000 to pay for the pitch. The club will use the pitch to help train their players, including the young cricketing stars of tomorrow.

Rosalie, a University of Sussex linguistics graduate and former University sports bursary holder, was on her way to a training session with the England women's squad but made time for an over or two to celebrate the launch of the new facility at her old university. All-rounder Rosalie is awaiting news of selection for the forthcoming Ashes tour in Australia and New Zealand. "It's an exciting winter ahead," she said.

As well as bowling a few balls, Rosalie, who now works for Sussex County Cricket Club, brought along the county championship trophy, won by Sussex this year, to inspire the young players in their training.

Facing that first delivery by the England bowler was 13-year-old Eric Wedge-Bull, a member of the Brighton-based St Matthias Cricket Club Under-14s side.

St Matthias CC is one of two local clubs who play home games at the University's cricket field at the Falmer sports pavilion on campus. Founded in 1914, St Matthias has a long tradition of encouraging cricketers of the future, and numbers Sussex CCC and England player Matthew Prior among its former players.

The University hopes to help develop the game in Sussex further with the aid of the new facilities, which can be used all year round.

Simon Tunley, deputy head of Sussexsport at the University, said: "We have had a long tradition of supporting community cricket clubs over the last 25 years through both facilities and players. The recent opportunity therefore to partnership-fund a new artificial cricket wicket with St Mathias was a great opportunity for the University.

"We are very keen to develop both cricketing opportunities for both the campus and the community. The new strip will be specifically used to develop junior and ladies' cricket and internal university games. St Matthias have a very strong junior set-up and it is hoped the new strip will be huge boost in helping to produce the cricket stars of the future."

Alan Wildig, Junior Secretary of St Matthias CC, said: "The beauty of this surface is the consistent pace and bounce it produces, which is the safest way to encourage juniors to develop their confidence and cricketing skills. It will greatly assist our club coaches in achieving this aim."

The Notts Sport artificial wicket will be shared by the University, which provided the site, and St Matthias CC, which secured donations from Brighton and Hove City Council, the National Lottery's Awards 4 All scheme and celebrity cricket fundraisers' club, the Lord's Taverners.

Notes for editors

  • For more information about sports facilities at the University of Sussex, see: sussexsport
  • For more information about St Matthias Cricket Club, see: stmatthias

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888 or email

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