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January 2024 Meeting Report

The History of Cricket in Sawston, by David Ellis

The speaker at the January meeting was David Ellis, director of development at Sawston and Babraham Cricket Club, and a long-time Sawston resident, on the history of cricket in Sawston.

David explained that Sawston Cricket Club was set up in 1853 and Babraham followed in 1856. The grounds were owned by local gentry, Thomas Evans in Sawston who bought the Spike Field for cricket and HJ Adeane of Babraham Hall in Babraham. The early players were all from the leisured classes as games were played mid-week. Local clergymen often figured. There were teams from Sawston Paper Mill and St Mayís Choir as well as the Spike team. In 1887 Sawston Church Institute absorbed the Spike Club.

Notable cricketers included James Hedding from the Paper Mill and Charles Sheldrick, commemorated by a tombstone showing bat and pads in the churchyard. A key figure was John Falkner, headmaster of the Boys' School who was a fine player and introduced regular practice. As a result, in 1901 Sawston CC won the Cambridgeshire Junior Cup, against a team in which a very young Jack Hobbs played. In 1921 the Church Institute team won the Junior Cup again under John Falkner, with possibly the best side produced by Sawston in that century. Its achievements were chronicled by Traviss Teversham, himself no mean player.

From 1924-5 Spicerís Sports Ground was the base for the Club and it held its own in village cricket through the 1930s. In 1953 the Club celebrated its centenary with a week of events culminating in a match against the MCC, with accompanying publicity in the local press. Key figures included Ralph Chalk and his sons Ian and Travers, Giles Witherington, the MD of Spicers, Doug Bright, Ron Vallins and later Jim Greig. The ground was maintained to a very high standard by Frank Matthews and in 1964 a Minor Counties match was played there.

After some difficult years in the 1980s when players were few, in 1988 the club merged with the Spike club and began to flourish. In 1990 it won the Junior Cup and then achieved rapid progress through the various leagues. In 2003, 150 years of cricket in Sawston was celebrated and in 2015 Sawston and Babraham merged. The rebuilding of the pavilion meant that the facilities at Sawston are now up to a high standard. By 2020 the team had won promotion to the East Anglian Premier League and in 2021 and 2022 were the champions of that League. This League is of a standard just below county cricket. The Club now fields several teams and has an extensive youth programme with regular training and is hoping to encourage more girls and women into the game.

Mary Dicken

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