SONNY Ramadhin’s love for cricket remains as intense as in 1950 when he was a member of the West Indies team which recorded their first-ever series win in England.
Now aged 92, club president Sonny attends every game at Friarmere where son Craig has played for 50 consecutive seasons.
Sonny, who lives in Delph, is the last surviving member of the 1950 team which included the legendary three ‘Ws’ of Worrell, Weekes and Walcott.
Yet it was the spin kings of Sonny, who played 43 Tests for the West Indies between 1950-60, and Alf Valentine, who were the heroes of that 3-1 series win as between them they took
And it prompted the pair to be immortalised in song with the calypso ‘Those two little pals of mine, Ramadhin and Valentine’.
Sonny, aged 21, made his West Indies debut in the opening Test at Old Trafford which produced England’s only win of the four-match series.
He claimed four wickets with his right-arm spin bowling while left-armer Valentine took 11.
But it was in the second Test that Ramadhin spun the West Indies to victory with a haul of 11 wickets.
“After Old Trafford I didn’t think I’d be picked for Lords and of course every youngster wants to play at the home of cricket. But somehow, they left me in the side, and I got five and six,” he recalled.
When England returned to the West Indies in early 1954, Sonny took 13 wickets in the first two Tests and was instrumental in West Indies’ victory. He was the first bowler to take two five-wicket hauls in his first two Test matches, against England.
In the 1957 tour of England Sonny still exerted his hold over batsmen, taking 7-49, his best-ever Test return, to dismiss England for 186 in the first innings of the first Test at Edgbaston.
The West Indies made 474 and Colin Cowdrey joined Peter May at 113-3 in the second innings, still 175 runs behind. May and Cowdrey padded away any ball from Sonny outside off stump, where they could not be given out leg before wicket.
May made 285 not out and Cowdrey 154 and together added 411 runs in 511 minutes, the third highest stand in Test cricket at the time, the highest for the fourth wicket until 2009, the highest stand ever made for England and the highest stand against the West Indies by any team.
Sonny was forced to bowl 98-35-179-2, the most overs by a bowler in a first-class innings.
England won the series 3–0.
He took up his first job locally as professional at Crompton in 1951 and has remained ever since and been pro for many clubs including CLL club Radcliffe for whom he took 10-26 against Walsden, Little Lever and Daisy Hill in the Bolton League, Liversedge and Heckmondwike in the Huddersfield League, North Staffs and South Cheshire side Askam Park and Delph.
He also played for Lancashire in 1964-65 and later for Lincolnshire in Minor Counties from 1968-72.
Sonny was close friends with Worrell, the first black captain of the West Indies, who became godfather to his son Craig as they both settled in England and played against each other in club cricket. Sadly, he died aged only 42 in 1967.
He bowled against many of the game’s greats selecting Len Hutton, later Sir Len, as the toughest to bowl at.
But the only regret was never getting the chance to play against Don Bradman, the greatest batsman of all-time who had retired in 1948. Sonny, himself, retired from the game aged 57.
Late wife June was Sonny’s number one fan attending all the games he played in, both home and away.
Saddleworth became home to Sonny and June as he was licensee of the Hare and Hounds and Cloggers Arms, both Uppermill, and The White Lion, Delph, over a period of almost 30 years.
Sonny, who keeps in contact with Rohan Kanhai, another West Indies great, has lived in Shaw and since retiring in Waterhead and latterly for the last 12 years in Delph.
Until lockdown and until the age of 90, Sonny was still playing golf at Saddleworth where he was a long-standing member with a low handicap of five.
Sonny, who has had seven holes-in-one, was also a regular in celebrity golf events, sometimes appearing with his friend and ex-West Indies star Sir Gary Sobers.
In one pro-am at Saddleworth which he won, amateur Sonny, who was renowned for having an amazing touch around the greens, had the best round of the day, including all the professionals.