Tymal Mills, writing on behalf of everyone at Sussex CCC, pays tribute to Matt Hobden, his much-loved teammate who tragically died last month.
The sheer volume of messages of shock, sadness and support that flooded social media when the news broke is testimony to what a brilliant man Matt was. No matter if you had met him once or known him your whole life, memories of time spent with him were ones of happiness. You would be hard pressed to find somebody with a bad word to say about Matt.
Hobbsy was a truly memorable guy. A larger-than-life character who no matter how much he annoyed, frustrated or aggravated you at the time, you couldn’t help but love. A prime example of this would be his punctuality. He would be at least 10 minutes late to pretty much anything that he attended, but very rarely was any type of punishment handed out. You just couldn’t stay mad at him. His good-natured manner is a tribute to his upbringing and any parent would be proud to have a son who behaved like he did. It was also nice to meet his brother Charlie at various points of the season and he unsurprisingly fitted easily into the group straight away.
Hobbsy’s fashion sense was a constant talking point around the ground. When not in training gear, you would often see him strolling around in a stupidly oversized white t-shirt, flicking his hair from in front of his eyes, wearing the same New Balance trainers he’d had since he was 15, a god-awful belt and, always, and most noticeably, a huge smile.
On the cricket field, we were only just beginning to see what he was capable of. Easily one of the quickest bowlers in county cricket, he’d jumped at the opportunities that he’d been given, taking big wickets at key times and improving with every game. To go along with his pace, he also had the strongest (although not always the most accurate!) arm, certainly in our team, if not the whole county circuit. We just had to make sure that we had a few men ready to back-up, just in case his throw went awry! But putting his bowling and fielding to one side, we all knew that his unbeaten half-century against Durham at the start of last season and the sixes he hit in that innings were what he was most proud of, and rightly so.
Matt will be missed by so many people, at Sussex CCC and beyond. Even disregarding his limitless potential on the field, his sheer presence in the dressing room is something that will be sorely missed for a long time to come.
As a team we have no doubt in our minds that this tragedy will bring us closer together than ever and everything that we strive for and accomplish from here on in will be in Matt’s honour and memory. We feel it’s so important that his name and memory are now used as motivation to bring about all the success that he was undoubtedly set to achieve in his own career. He will forever be an important part of the Sussex Family. Once a Shark, always a Shark.