The History of Cheam Cricket Club
The origins of cricket at Cheam date back to 1864 when a group of local parishioners started playing in the local meadows. In 1875, 5 acres of land was leased in Cheam Park and the game was played there for many years.
The first recorded gathering of Cheam Cricket Club in the twentieth century came in 1919, and 2 years later the freehold of the current ground in Peaches Close was purchased. The distinctive poplar trees were planted and the enormous permanent sightscreen was constructed, until recent years the largest in the world.
During the second world war, bombs fell on the ground causing damage to both the pavilion and playing surfaces. After the war, players gradually returned and cricket at Cheam was played to a good standard.
The late 1950’s and 1960’s became known as the benefit years and valuable funds were raised for the Surrey beneficiaries of the time. In 1968, Cheam staged an International Cavaliers match with John Edrich of Surrey and England the beneficiary of a game watched by a crowd of 8,000. The match was televised live on BBC2 and it was the first cricket match televised in colour. Gary Sobers, Frank Tyson and Trevor Bailey were amongst the stars of cricket who played at Cheam on that day.
In the same year, Cheam became a founder member of the Surrey Championship and quickly earned a reputation of producing pitches of high standard. Mike Haigh’s 1st XI finished 4th in the league in 1976 and the 2nd XI, under Nick Mason’s leadership won a first championship title for the club in 1977. Strength in depth was a feature of the club and there was further success for Nick and the 2nd XI in 1981, and again with Tim Masey as captain in 1986. 3rd XI success came with back to back league titles in 1982 and 1983 with Trevor Lonsdale leading an all conquering side. Pat Wearne’s 1985 side added a third triumph in 5 years and Sonny Patel’s 1989 side made it four. In doing so a very special decade for the club was completed and there were further honours to follow.
Colts cricket was flourishing and a number of young players made easy and effective transitions into the senior sides. Of these youngsters, Alastair Brown and Mark Butcher were both brought into the 1st XI at very young ages and both were offered county contracts at Surrey. Long and highly successful county careers for both ensued and Alastair went on to play 16 ODI’s for England. His score of 268 in a one day 50 over game against Somerset remains a world record. Mark totalled 71 test matches for his country, gaining the highest honour in the game with the England captaincy against New Zealand.
Alastair and Mark formed part of a power filled batting line up during their years at Cheam and the club swept all before them in 1990. A first 1st XI championship was won in 1990 under Bob Falconer’s captaincy and a thrilling semi final win against Truro gave the club a Lords appearance to contest the final of the Cockspur Cup, the premier club cup competition. A tense and exciting game was finally won by opponents Blackpool in the last over.
Stalwart David Morgan played in the 1st XI before the beginning of League Cricket and was ever dependable in the team for over 30 years. His record of 1325 wickets in the Surrey Championship 1st XI league is unlikely to be broken.
Strength in depth was still the theme and Mark Rendall’s 2nd X1 won consecutive Surrey Championship titles in 1990 and 1991.
As the Surrey Championship expanded, the club continued to field 4 sides on a Saturday, all playing league cricket. Sunday cricket has always featured as an important component in the summer season, with veteran Bob Airey still playing and having featured in the team over 4 different decades.
The Colts section continued to impress and Michael Carberry, a Cheam colt and 1st XI player has gone on to enjoy a lengthy county career with stints at both Kent and Hampshire. Michael made his England debut in a test match on the sub continent in 2010 and has 6 caps to his name.
Overseas cricketers featured over several seasons, with Greg Lamb following several summers at Cheam with a breakthrough into the Zimbabwe Test and one day sides.
Into the current era, and the club prospered under the captaincy of Danny Miler for 5 years in the early 2000s, and the team has played a brand of entertaining cricket with David Houpapa and Danny both delivering memorable moments.
Unfortunately in the 2013/14 season a clash between the cricket section and wider sports club led to the unceremonious walk out of several 1st XI playing members and committee members. The move left the cricket club in tatters and the remaining members who dearly loved Cheam Cricket Club felt the brunt of it as their team was now out of its depth in the Premier and 1st Divisions of the Surrey Championship. Incoming Chairman Andy Bruen assisted by Paul Fisher and Kevin Brown did an incredible job averting complete disaster and attempting to navigate troubled waters.
In 2014 season Mike O’Donnell took over as 1st XI Captain having risen through the Cheam ranks as a colt. It was arguably the most difficult period in the history of the club as the team simply no longer equipped to play at the highest level slipped down to Division 3 by 2016.
In 2017 another colt who rose through the ranks James Wright took over as Captain and immediately enjoyed some success challenging for the Division 3 title and narrowly missing out on promotion. However in 2018 a combination of back room issues and poor availability led to the relegation of the 1st XI to Division 4. The 2nd XI narrowly avoided relegation by winning the last game of the season defending just 94!
However in 2019 the club under a new direction was determined to succeed. Chairman Safeer Butt assisted by Vice-Chairman Nasir Sayed made sweeping reforms and changes to ensure success on and off the field including the signing of Netherland's International Bas de Leede for the 2019 season signally their intent for the year ahead. Other changes included a improvement in adult training and selection, improved recruitment, new sponsorship deals and improved financial management, reform of the colts section to improve coaching, finances and development, a decrease in membership fees and setting the club up for success on and off the field. True to form all 4 adult teams were promoted in 2019 including last game of the season thrilling wins for the 2nd XI defending just 84 at Home bowling out Kingstonians for only 39 and the 3rd XI chasing down 264 by Chandra Senanayake hitting 14 off the final over for the last wicket in style despatching 6-6-4 in the first 3 balls of the last over.
2020 will be a new challenge for the players and management. Off the field the club is hoping to install new artificial nets and improve facilities at the club as well as introduce a new range of training clothing. On the field the 1st XI remain ambitious and on paper the team goes from strength to strength. Some of that strength filters down into the 2's and 3's who both have excellent team in their own right. The 4's continues to be a mix of youth and experience and all 4 teams are relishing the challenge up a division from 2019.