By Neil Fissler
Sussex were just about to lose their crown as the most successful team in the early history of English one-day cricket.
Under Ted Dexter, Sussex had charged out of the gates from the inception of the Gillette Cup in the early Sixties, seeing it as a highly viable competition long before others reached the same conclusion.
They won the first two finals in 1963 and 1964 beating Worcestershire by 14 runs and then Warwickshire by eight wickets who gained their revenge by four wickets four years later.
In 1970 under the leadership of Mike Griffith they reached the Lord’s final in the first weekend of September for a fourth time and were bidding to become the first three-time winners.
Sussex had knocked out Essex in the second round by four wickets knocking off the 175 needed thanks to 72 from Mike Buss.
The third round at Canterbury saw them clock up 199 from their 60 overs. Then Tony Greig’s 5-42 reduced Kent to 152, giving the visitors a 47-run victory.
In the semi-final they bowled out Surrey at The Oval for 196 and even though they could only match that total, Sussex squeezed through, having lost two fewer wickets.
Sussex managed to win their three games without having to score 200 which would cause them a problem in the final against Lancashire.
Batsman Les Lenham said: “It was a season where there was a lot of rain and even though you would have a bit of a dry spell there was always a lot of surface water which created damp pitches.
“They were conducive to seam bowling and that season the seamers had quite a good time of it although in the final we struggled to score quickly against their seamers.
“Then David Hughes came on with his slow left-armers and we had a little dash at him and he picked up some valuable wickets.”
The final was a classic North vs South contest with Lancashire about to embark on what became on the most successful era’s in their history.
They lifted the Sunday League in 1970 as well as the Gillette Cup four times between 1970 and 1975 when they defeated Middlesex.
Lenham believes that Sussex, however, were between 45 and 50 runs short of making a match of it after scoring 184-9 from their 60 overs.
The Red Rose county were never in much trouble as they knocked off the required runs for the loss of four wickets with just under five overs to spare.
“It was really a 230-240 pitch. It wasn’t very quick and the bounce was reasonable. It came on reasonably but we got out playing too many ambitious shots,” said Lenham.
“Ken Suttle, Mike Griffith and John Snow all got themselves run out towards the end when the panic set in and we realised that we were very short of a score of 230-240 that we needed.
“Mike Buss was our top-scorer and he had a good season for us and scored a lot of runs. But I remember Harry Pilling played particularly well for Lancashire in the final that day.”
BACK ROW (left-right):
Peter Graves: Batsman who became a labourer and then started his own business buying and selling JCB diggers to the building industry and is now sales director of an ink business.
John Denman: Seamer who became a geography teacher and also coached cricket at top independent boarding school Worth Abbey, in Turners Hill, Sussex.
John Spencer: Brighton-born all-rounder retired in 2012 after spending 34 years teaching PE and as deputy head at Brighton College. He has worked for the Aldridge Foundation.
John Snow: England international fast bowler who played in Kerry Packer’s World Series which gave him the money to set up a successful travel business.
Richard Langridge: Left- handed batsman whose father James played for Sussex and England. A teacher and then ran a sub post office in Horsham. He died in January 2005, aged 65 after a short battle with cancer.
Tony Greig: England all-rounder settled in Australia and worked as a television commentator but died in Sydney, in December 2012, aged 66 after suffering a heart attack.
Tony Buss: Seamer, and brother of Mike, who owned a sports shop in Lancing and then two sub-post offices and is now retired living in Worthing.
Mike Buss: All-rounder who is now based in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, where he has run the local sub post office.
Ken Suttle: Batsman who appeared in 423 consecutive matches between 1954 and 1969. He played football for Chelsea and Brighton and worked as a menswear salesman and sports company rep. He died on holiday in Mauritius in March 2005, aged 75.
Don Bates: Seamer who also played for football for Brighton and was player-manager of Steyning Town. He taught PE and then ran a launderette business in Brighton. He died in May 2009, aged 72
Les Lenham: Batsman who stayed on at Hove, becoming head coach and has also worked with the England side before returning to Sussex as a specialist part-time batting coach. His son Neil has also played for the county.
Jim Parks: England wicketkeeper/batsman. His father Jim Snr and son Bobby also played county cricket. He went to work for Whitbread, before becoming marketing manager for Sussex.
Mike Griffith: Captain who was the son of England keeper Billy. His godfather was PG Wodehouse. Worked in the City of London for a firm of maritime insurers.
Nawab of Pataudi: Batsman and India’s greatest captain. His father played for England on the Bodyline tour. Worked as a journalist and in TV. Died in New Delhi, in September 2011, aged 70.
Geoff Greenidge: An opening batsman and leg-spin bowler who returned to his native Barbados where he worked in the family business of sports goods agents.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper on Friday November 6, 2015