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 sight-screen 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 1981 and 1982 with Trevor Lonsdale leading an all-conquering side. Pat Wearne’s 1985 side added a third triumph in 5 years.
Junior 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 career 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 at the time. 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 XI 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.
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.
Cheam hosted Surrey 2nd XI games for many years and other representative games are also played at Peaches Close, including Club Cricket Conference and County Over 50’s fixtures, testament to the quality of the square and facilities.
Past Presidents, Justin Thomas and Howard Cohen have both given many years to the role at the club and were largely responsible for the Club maintaining a prestigious fixture with MCC during our cricket week. Stephen Hyde in roles of 1st XI Captain, Chairman and Treasurer has given over 40 years of service to the Club and has been a major driving force over the years. Great credit and thanks are due to all them for their commitment.
The Last Decade has shown the best and worst in how a Cricket club can impact its community. At the end of the 2013 season the vast majority of the first team walked out with many joining rival clubs in the area along with the presiding chairman Nick Hill (Chairman Ashtead CC). These actions were taken after ongoing friction with the sports club outside of the cricket section which was arguably the best in the surrounding area.
The impact of their actions was devastating, in effect every team below them moved up a level as replacing the sheer number of first team players we lost in one go was impossible. What followed was disbanding of lower teams due to a lack of numbers and dropping down the leagues of all teams at all levels over the subsequent years.
Despite this special mention is deserved for the few first team players who showed loyalty to the club and all the club members who stepped up to field teams that were understrength for the level being played at week in week out.
Subsequent Presidents Warren Robertson, Bob Airey and Chairmen Andy Bruen, Paul Fisher stepped in and helped the club stay afloat and survive in these difficult years, this role took its toll on all involved and the club on the field and financially.
2019 onwards under Chairman Safeer Butt and Vice Chair Nasir Sayed marked a turning point with an improvement on Club finances to being self sufficient and a reform of the Junior section with Anjan Dutta and then Mark Pennock being instigated.
Multiple league titles and promotions of all teams makes us one if not the most successful club in Surrey since (4 Division titles and 4 promotions in just 2 years across the board in senior section) and we have now expanded to 5 adult teams and a Junior section approaching 300 strong boosted by girls teams.
We continue to challenge at all levels with the 1st XI being promoted to Division 2 of the Surrey Championship in 2022 and other teams all challenging yearly for honours including our u19 trust team. Our facilities match the best in the county and the club is used also by London Universities as a venue for games.
The life blood of the club for many years has been the Junior section. It continues to develop young players and many youngsters currently represent the club in the senior sides, with increasing numbers being taken into or trialling for county programs.
The club sets out to be very much part of the local community and continues to offer a friendly and inclusive approach enabling cricketers of all standards to enjoy cricket and club life in the heart of Surrey. With playing membership increasing, Chairman Safeer Butt and 1st XI Captain Joe Bracher are looking forward with optimism.