Cricket's county championship should have started - instead Sussex skipper has his head in a book

There is one silver lining during the coronavirus crisis for Sussex captain Ben Brown – the opportunity to devote more time to his studies.

Ben Brown batting for Sussex v Worcs last season / Picture: Getty
Ben Brown batting for Sussex v Worcs last season / Picture: Getty

Along with Luke Wright, Sussex’s Vitality Blast skipper, Brown enrolled in Manchester Metropolitan University’s Directorship of Sports masters’ degree course after the 2019 season ended.

And with no county cricket until May 28 at the earliest, and possibly much deeper into the summer, Brown has been able to dive into his books.

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“It’s been brilliant so far, I have learned so much,” said the 31-year-old. “Hopefully I have got quite a few more years left as a player but last year I did start to give a bit more serious thought to what I might do after I retire and life after playing cricket.

Sussex four-day skipper Ben Brown

“I’m not going to rule anything out. Coaching is a possibility, but this course is for someone who might perhaps look for a Director of Cricket role or something similar rather than pure coaching.

“It’s for just over two years and covers a lot of topics about leadership and business strategy.”

As part of his studies so far, Brown did a case study with Everton Ladies FC, who play in the Women’s Super League. Brown’s fees are part-funded by the Professional Cricketers’ Association.

“One of the best things so far has been learning about how other sports operate,” he added.

Ben Brown at the crease

“Every sport is different – finances and the way they are regulated – and that has been fascinating. I’ve really enjoyed it and I think it’s helped reaffirm that I am actually doing okay in terms of my captaincy and decision making, because often doubts can creep in.

“A massive part of the course is sharing experiences with the other students and learning how you can make a difference and improve in your own role.”

Brown signed a new three-year contract in March and it’s inconceivable that he will not spend the rest of his career at Hove.

In 140 first-class matches since his debut in 2007, he has scored 7,403 runs at an average of over 40 with 18 centuries.

He has 408 dismissals behind the stumps, with his 391 catches as keeper putting him fifth on Sussex’s all-time list in first-class cricket.

Over the past two seasons, no wicketkeeper has more County Championship dismissals than his 106.

For now Brown, like everyone else, must wait.

Most of Sussex’s non-playing staff had already been furloughed under the government’s Job Retention Scheme and the players are now similarly affected until the end of May.

Head coach Jason Gillespie returned to Australia when the county cut short their pre-season training camp in South Africa last month.

Brown should have been leading Sussex’s Championship promotion bid today (Easter Sunday) against Durham at Hove.

Instead he will be trying to tick over physically and spend some of his spare time on his studies.

“Obviously it’s frustrating for everyone but at the moment everyone’s priority has to be on staying safe and healthy,” he said.

“Hopefully we will play some cricket this season but there are more important things to worry about at the moment.”

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