Your idea sounds very workable, but might be improved. For about $30 you can buy a sump basin like the one at this link:
Seems to me, it is the depth you are looking for and would be stronger than a bucket with holes drilled in it and the deeper basin will reduce pump cycling. Rather than pea gravel, consider 3/4 inch washed drain rock. Water will flow through quickly. A permimeter drain system should work as well as a web of ditches. Once the water table is drawn down below the surface at the perimeter, it is unlikely to surface in the middle. This could allow the use of weep tile, although, you are not concerned about appearance here.
I had a similar problem in my crawlspace. Water would pond around the pressure tank that was dug into the ground so it would clear the floor joists. In my case, the problem went away after I installed an interceptor drain in the driveway, and routed the gutter downspouts to drains that daylight at the back of the property. If you can intercept surface water before it reaches the house, its probably a better solution. For a high water table, you probably have the right idea.