Bruce on the Boundary – Contract news ain’t wot it used to be

Posted On 23 Jun 2018 at 5:28 pm

The most interesting bit about Sussex’s announcement this week that captain Ben Brown had signed a new contract wasn’t the headline news itself.

Brown came through the Sussex age group system and has been around the first-team squad since making his debut 11 years ago.

He is Sussex born and bred and it will be astonishing if he doesn’t finish his career at Hove.

Instead, and for the first time I can remember in 30 years covering Sussex, the announcement didn’t actually specify how long he’d signed for. A year? Ten years? Forever?

According to a spokesman for the club, director of cricket Keith Greenfield has decided not to specify the length of contracts in the hope that it deters other counties from approaching his players.

At the moment counties can give 28 days’ notice to speak to players but only if they are out of contract at the end of that season.

Unofficial “tapping up” players has gone on all the time. The favourite place to find out “who was available” used to the end of season dinner hosted by the Professional Cricketers Association.

It was there in 2006 where Yorkshire made their less than formal approach to Chris Adams on the dance floor of the Royal Albert Hall.

Adams was at the peak of his powers as Sussex captain having just led them to their second County Championship title and one-day cup final victory at Lord’s.

A few days later Adams had agreed to move to Headingley, only to change his mind. Fortunately for him, he hadn’t signed a contract.

Cricketers, in my experience, are great gossips. They tend to know which players are moving counties long before any announcement is made but I don’t think Sussex supporters have anything to worry about where Brown is concerned.

I can imagine him, long after he’s stopped playing, sitting in a deckchair at Hove cheering on the next generation of Sussex players.

Mind you, a year ago I would have thought the same about Chris Nash who followed a similar career path to Brown. Last week he was captaining Nottinghamshire, having moved there last winter.

Follow Bruce Talbot on Twitter @brucetalbot1.

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