MCC at birthday bash

PUBLISHED: 16:54 03 August 2006 | UPDATED: 11:56 04 May 2010

The current Ely/Haddenham team line up before the MCC match.

The current Ely/Haddenham team line up before the MCC match.

THE world-famous Marylebone Cricket Club marked the 150th anniversary of Ely cricket with a one-off match against Ely/Haddenham last week. The MCC side, comprising the Lords-based club s talented younger players, had finished their innings of 237-3 off 44

SAFE HANDS: Ely/Haddenham’s Kevin Wells catches 
an edge off an MCC batsman.

THE world-famous Marylebone Cricket Club marked the 150th anniversary of Ely cricket with a one-off match against Ely/Haddenham last week.

The MCC side, comprising the Lords-based club's talented younger players, had finished their innings of 237-3 off 44 overs. Due to heavy rain the match was abandoned and Ely/Haddenham had only 45 minutes of batting time. In fading light, the home side managed 32-3.

Among those representing Ely/Haddenham was club president Brian Leonard, 68, who, in his 52nd year of playing for the club, is its longest-serving member.

He said: "I've been tremendously proud to represent Ely for all these years and I've had a great time along the way. I've seen successes come and go and, though we've struggled a bit in recent times, we've got some really talented players in the youth set-up."

The story of The City of Ely Cricket Club, as they were known until recent years, begins with its founding in 1856. The club played friendly matches against local teams at Paradise Close, now known as the Paradise Ground in Ely, but little else has been recorded of these early years.

Ely had a particularly strong team in the 1930s. Although the side was still playing friendly matches the standard was high. In 1934 Ely played 20 matches, won 13, drew three and lost four, scoring an impressive total of 2,324 runs for 176 wickets - an average of 13.2 per wicket.

For the next two decades, Ely struggled with finances, facilities, the condition of the ground, and finding regular opposition, and players were having to fork out increasing match fees to keep the club going.

1962 was an historic year for the club. Ely embarked on their first ever tour, which involved a week's cricket in Kent. On this highly successful tour, Ely won a record-breaking match against Frindsbury with a score of 305-4 to their 303-3.

This was the first occasion that two teams had reached 300 at Frindsbury's Parsonage Meadow Ground, the highest number of runs scored at the ground in a one-day match, and also the first time Frindsbury had scored 300 and been defeated. This was the second time in the year that Ely reached the 300 mark.

In the same year, Brian Leonard became the first Ely player to score 1,000 runs in a season, with a boundary shot against Stuntney seeing him reach the target. Ely player Phil Warren also reached this remarkable milestone - he later went on to score 1,003 runs for the season, and Alan Wilson took an exceptional 107 wickets.

Ely went on to play their first competitive match on April 27, 1974, which was away at Ramsey in the Millman Cup. They finished the season in a respectable mid-table position. Ely went on to play in the Cambridgeshire Senior League for the first time in 1979, in which they play to this day.

Ely have struggled in recent years, due to a lack of young players coming through, and the club merged with Haddenham six years ago. The club now has three youth teams in the under-11s, under-13s and under-15s age groups, and hopes to build a platform for the future.

Mr Leonard said: "I can see some of these lads coming through the ranks in the next couple of years and resurrecting the club - we've got a conscientious treasurer who makes sure we keep on top of things financially and we could have bright future ahead.

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