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A visual hike for the historically minded – ESPN

A bowler in delivery stride, coiled and capped. A thick, sinister moustache is matched for menace by a piercing sidelong gaze. The left sole is planted with the delicacy of a ballerina, the right cocked just above the pitch and equally dainty. Right arm curls across an ample chest; there is no evidence whatsoever of the left. Welcome to the arrestingly creative world of cricket art in the 1920s.

Welcome, too, to an alluring visual hike across 175 years of Sussex CCC, the oldest first-class club of all. If you know your cricketana, you might assume that the aforementioned portrait celebrates the subtle spite of Wilfred Rhodes; actually, the subject is another durable slow left-armer, George Cox. In both cases the brushes belonged to Ernest Moore: the commission came after the Sussex chairman saw his study of the Yorkshire titan. In fact, Cox outdid his contemporary for longevity: in 1926, at 52, he collected 17 Warwickshire scalps in Horsham #8211; and he was still on the circuit two seasons later.

All the same, it#8217;s the monochrome snaps that magnetise: CB Fry on-driving with haughty aplomb; the equally lordly Imran Khan squeezed on the end of a bench, braving the April chill; an angelic David Sheppard, future Bishop of Liverpool and anti-apartheid campaigner, leading the 1st XI out at Hove in 1953, hair swept back in apparent homage to Tate; John Snow in the nets, following through with illusory languidness and the poise of Fred Astaire; a floppy-haired and vaguely foppish Nawab of Pataudi #8211; county debutant at 16, captain nine years later.

Venerability powers this largely and gloriously black-and-white tome. To tuck into it is to be reminded of the disproportionate footprint left on the planet#8217;s finest ball game by a modest, homely institution that only became a consistent county powerhouse at the overly ripe age of 164 (Chris Adams led the club to its first Championship in 2003).

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