Hamilton-Brown back at 'caring' Hove
Rory Hamilton-Brown is hoping a more caring environment at Hove can help him begin a new phase of his career on Wednesday when he is expected to return to Sussex colours in their opening match of the new season at Headingley.
Hamilton-Brown, 25, has said he needed to leave The Oval, where he had been club captain, after a desperately difficult year in which his team-mate and best friend Tom Maynard was killed. He was one of the last people to see Maynard alive and gave evidence at his inquest in February.
"I needed to play in a place where I felt like people cared about you and they wanted you around," he told the Press Association. "Ultimately I think that kind of care and love when you go through tough times brings the best out of you. It's easy when you go through a time like that to feel quite isolated and alone."
Having began his career with three years at Sussex, Hamilton-Brown will hope to again display the talent that saw him taken to Surrey by Chris Adams and made the youngest captain in the country, trying to put the tragic events of last year behind him.
He attempted a return to the Surrey first XI in August, something he now realises was a mistake. "I was disappointed to be brought back and dropped and brought back and left out, but ultimately I should never have played in the first place," he said. "Mentally I had a lot going on and I was not able to get myself in the place I was before the tragic incident. There was no way I should have been on a cricket field, but I wanted to try it and see what I could do."
Hamilton-Brown averaged 46.55 in first-class cricket with two centuries in seven matches during his first stint at Sussex and hopes the memory of Maynard will inspire him to fulfil his potential. "Undoubtedly a little part of me wants to think that I'm carrying him with me," he said. "And that's going to give you a deeper, harder drive than I've had before.
"I've been on a road of discovery, which has been brilliant in some ways, but I'm really looking forward to being back on the pitch. It's not going to be something you're going to get over overnight - it's not something you ever get over - but for me it was imperative that I went away and had a look at myself, what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and the rest of my career."