An increasing number of county clubs are turning their back on outgrounds to concentrate on playing home matches at their headquarters.

I have to say I find that one of the more disappointing trends in the modern game.

Of course it makes financial sense to play all your cricket at one venue but I think part of the romance of the game is disappearing every time a county makes such a decision.

As Sussex players, we are lucky that we play on two of the best outgrounds in the country every season in Horsham and Arundel. There is the prospect next year of a return to Eastbourne as well.

If I had to choose one, I'd say my favourite has to be the Castle Ground. I made the county's highest one-day score there back in 1999 and I've always done well there.

The setting, of course, is unrivalled and Horsham isn't far behind in that regard.

Someone told me there this week that in the 19th century part of the Nevill Ground at Tunbridge Wells was actually inside the Sussex border.

It didn't surprise me to be honest, because it always feels like we are playing at one of our own outgrounds when we go there.

It's only about 35 miles from Brighton and half of the crowd seems to be supporting us. I certainly can't remember playing Kent in the Championship anywhere else apart from Tunbridge Wells while I've been with Sussex.

This week it looked at its glorious best and, as I sit here on Thursday afternoon, the car parks are full, the hospitality tents overflowing and a big crowd are enjoying the action.

Who says county cricket is dying on its feet?

My first memory of outgrounds was at Chesterfield where I played a lot of cricket as a youngster I remember one afternoon at school when my older brother David turned up at the classroom door and told the teacher I had to be excused because our grandfather had been taken ill and we had to return home straight away.

We got 100 yards outside the gates when David burst out laughing and told me the real reason I was taken out of school.

We were off to Queen's Park to see Ian Botham and Viv Richards batting together for Somerset.

I can still remember the pair of them having their own personal power-hitting competition that afternoon and I'm sure the teacher never found out!

As I keep telling our lads, they are fortunate to play on such nice outgrounds.

If they ever want to experience a culture shock I'll take them to Ilkeston.

Derbyshire used to go there every year when I played for them and it offered the sharpest possible contrast you can imagine to places like Arundel and Tunbridge Wells.

The dressing rooms were terrible, the food for the players poor and the wicket invariably very green.

It wasn't in the best of areas either and you spent a fair amount of time dodging dog muck in the outfield.

I remember one year on the Tuesday before a four-day game against Surrey we were practising at Derby and the chap who was sharing a house with Mohammed Azharuddin, our overseas player that year, turned up to tell us that Azhar was ill, but that he would turn up the next day and have a fitness test.

Anyway, we all pitched up at Ilkeston the following morning and there was no sign of Azhar.

His car had tinted windows and eventually nosed its way into the ground and his mate got out of the passenger's seat, walked across to the middle, paced up and down this emerald green pitch a couple of times, calmly announced to the captain Kim Barnett that Azhar wouldn't be fit to play and then got back into the car and drove off.

Saturday June 7