Sonning Cricket Club has been gracing the playing fields of Berkshire and the Thames Valley since circa. 1750 when The Gentlemen of Sonning were first enjoying the sounds of leather on willow.
The parish archives highlight a number of fixtures throughout the centuries, however, the more modern times are more easily remembered from the mid-1960s when the Club was under the stewardship of the late great Sidney Paddock, a man who very much had the village interests at heart. He recruited former Nottinghamshire professional: Peter Kay, who firmly set about putting Sonning on the map.
Peter’s enthusiasm saw him set up the Berkshire Cricket League in 1978, with Sonning being the inaugural champions. Further notable successes that season were with the 2nd X1, run by Club stalwart: David G Phillips, winning their league, the U17s, captained by a youthful Richard Anderson, and the U15s led by Adrian West both becoming champions, creating a moment in time that the Club refers to as The Champagne Year!
Through the late 1970s to the mid-1980s league titles were common place; in that time the Club fielded former England opener: Eric Russell, Derbyshire opener: John Harvey, East African off spinner: Chris English, who along with some incredible local players such as Nick Bentley, Clyde Cutting, Tim James, Renwick Bobb, David Phillips Jnr, Kenny Alleyne, Chris Knight, Mark Anderson, Dick Taylor, James Travers and the aforementioned Richard Anderson, put just a little fear in many opponents as the Sonning fixtures came around. In fact the Club won the Berkshire for three successive years.
The social side of the Club has been paramount in its continued success, and many annual dinners have been held with celebrity guest speakers such as: Brian Close, Clive Radley, Jim Laker and the legendary journalist/commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins. Further; enjoyable and competitive Sunday and tour cricket has been seen as essential to the make-up of the Club, with Somerset and Cardiff predominantly being venues for the excursions. However, we are unable to report detail as to use the old adage, ‘what goes on on tour, stays on tour’!
The turn of the century saw major successes return to Pound Lane; Peter Kay was at the rudder as Chairman and Gary Phillips was leading a team of exceptional players. Mark Richards had joined following his move from Cornwall, and has continued to put bowlers to the sword to the time of writing (2020), equally important was the recruitment of Ghulam Abbas, who, having played genuine first class cricket in Pakistan, has been terrorising batsmen for two decades. This period saw eight league titles for the 1st X1 and four for the 2nd X1 and one for the 3rd X1. Our overseas players since 2008 have included Queensland and Brisbane Heat opening bowler: Cameron Gannon; plus other great players from Australia, namely: Wade Johnston, Rhys Yorke, Josh Lanham, Louis Ellery and most recently Aaron Crofts.
This success could not be maintained without strong leadership and investment in our junior set up, which was driven by Nick and Tracy Ray; seeing successes on the pitch and in 2017 the introduction of ‘state of the art’ net practice facilities. In 2019 the mantel was passed to entrepreneur Tim Murphy, who with Mary Keenan, John & Elinor Longridge and Michael Marsden make a very strong unit to not only offer great cricket development to our juniors but also the foundation for these players, both boys and girls, to play in our senior sides and take us toward the self-sustaining model that we strive. The professional coaching, led by former professional, and 1st X1 captain: Andrew Niblett, is fast-tracking some talented juniors. Notably, the Club fielded two sisters: Charley & Ella Phillips, in the 1st X1 in 2018 and they continue to push for places in the top teams.
Sonning Cricket Club is well set for the 2020s; with a new pavilion on the horizon, the playing facilities being maintained to an exceptional level, a squad of over 20 ladies developing, and junior players making their mark in age group and senior cricket.