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Bradenton Herald: Sarasota cricket club, rugby program team up in Lakewood Ranch

Online source: 

Just down the road from the Sarasota Polo Club on University Parkway lies Parry Field, home of the Sarasota International Cricket Club, which started in Siesta Key but eventually found its way to Lakewood Ranch, where it’s been for more than 24 years.

Now, the variety of sports is about to get even bigger as the cricket club partners with the Sarasota Surge Rugby Club. Both teams have been sharing space at Parry Field, practicing and playing games there, and work is about to begin to build a new field for the rugby team on 2-plus acres of vacant land next to the cricket field. The land is owned by the cricket club and will be leased to the Sarasota Surge.

Head rugby coach Dai Morgan is hoping the partnership will help grow his club, which has more than 40 registered rugby players.

Our History, starting 1983

In 1982, British habitats of The Salty Dog, a well known watering hole on Siesta Key, Sarasota, challenged some American friends to back-to-back games of baseball and cricket. The results are long forgotten but the events led in 1983 to the founding of Sarasota International Cricket Club. For 10 years the club played at a ground on Wilkinson Road, graciously provided by The Fraternal Order of Eagles. The ground had a character all of its own. A huge live oak provided a clubhouse capable of sheltering 60 people from sun and rain. The slow grass wicket humbled even the quickest bowlers. A 40-yard mid-wicket boundary, defended by a neighbors fence and two pit bulls, boosted both the run rate and the budget for balls.

The fixture list expanded as the club became known in the broader cricketing fraternity. Visits from English and Caribbean teams were added to those from Florida. A high point, and one of the last matches played at Wilkinson Road, was against a Lords Taverners side, captained by the late Sir Leslie Crowther, that included Mike Denness, John Snow, John Emburey, Graham Roope, Farouk Engineer and Roy Virgin. Between 1985 and 1987, SICC played in the Central Florida Cricket League. However the club decided to abandon league play in favor of friendly games which have tended to be mainly at home.

Move to Lakewood Ranch 

In 1993, Lakewood Ranch offered Sarasota Internation Cricket Club the use of a laser-leveled, full-size ground on University Parkway opposite the Sarasota Polo Club. The move was accompanied by raffles and fund-raising dinners to finance a clubhouse and a low-maintenance cement wicket, covered by carpet. The members gave generously with money, time and skill. Special mention is due to Yvonne Malone, Dennis Fox, and Ken Fraser for donations when funds were desperately needed.

Permanent Home 

With the ground scheduled for development, Lakewood Ranch provided a new field about one mile further east on University Parkway, together with the opportunity to make this the club’s permanent home. The last game was played on the old field in May 2002. The clubhouse was moved to the new location in June 2002 and work progressed through the summer on roto-tilling and re-seeding with drought tolerant Bermuda grass, what had been cattle pasture. New ICC-approved Nott’s Sport artificial turf wickets, both match and practice, from the UK were installed in late September 2002 and the first match played in October 2002. In September 2003, new drainage and further leveling of the field were completed. 

Parry Field 

In 2011, the ground was named Parry Field in honour of Club President Laurence Parry and recognizing the enormous input and vision he has put into the Cricket Club since its inception.

Patron: Richie Benaud OBE 

The club was honored in 2004 when Richie Benaud, cricketing legend and a frequent visitor to Sarasota, agreed to become the Patron of Sarasota International Cricket Club. Richie opened the clubhouse in April 1994 and continues to spread the word about cricket in this part of the world and what has become known as our idyllic ground on University Parkway.