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Soul of Sport: A tribute to an amateur English club cricketer, Jonathan Mills

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English club cricketer, Jonathan Mills recently died of cancer but, despite declining all medical treatments, made the most of his final year by hitting a century for Brookweald Cricket Club.

Who was Jonathan Mills?

Jonathan Mills was neither a celebrity nor a test cricket. He was an amateur club cricketer playing for Brookweald Cricket Club at Essex. But why should we pay tribute to him? It is solely to celebrate the soul of sport; to pay respect to a man who remained a dedicated loyalist of cricket.

Jonathan Mills being interviewed by Jonathan Agnew for Test Match Special on BBC radio

Jonathan Mills was diagnosed with cancer in December 2022 after he experienced stomach pains. His tumours grew and spread despite six-months of medical treatment. So, Mills declined all further treatment in order to live out the rest of his life as normal.

“I decided that further palliative chemo was not the way to go and I’d just to try and get back to as normal [a life] as I could for as long as I can. That’s what I’ve tried to do,” Mills said to BBC after he hit 110 off 123 balls for Brookweald second XI just days after learning that chemotherapy treatment had not worked.

Mills made the most of his final year

Jonathan’s innings of 110 runs included 21 fours. He enabled Brookweald to post a total of 248-9 from their 45 overs in their away game at Woodham Mortimer on June 17, 2023. Brookweald had a thrilling one-run win.

Due to the effects of his chemotherapy, Jonathan did not run too much in the innings. “When I got to 100 I was too tired to worry about crying at that point. But job done, as it were, and I went and sat down,” Jonathan said.

Jonathan Mills as Stephen Fry’s guest in the president’s box at Lord’s during the Ashes Test

Essex Cricket invited him to ring the pavilion bell to start their next county game in order to celebrate Mills’ century. His innings was voted performance of the month on various cricket websites.

But what was most astonishing was when MCC President Stephen Fry invited him at Lord’s in the president’s box during the Ashes Test. Jonathan Mills spent the day with a bunch of famous former players including Justin Langer, Sir John Major and Hugh Laurie.

Mills died on May 3, 2024. His twin brother Jim Mills and Jonathan’s partner Sharon, were with him. He was 55. 

In an obituary, David Mills, Jonathan’s brother wrote:

“Jon’s whole life revolved around sport. He worked as a sales director for a beauty company largely because it allowed him to organise his own time fitting in as much rugby, golf and cricket as he could….

Every time he moved for work, he joined the local cricket and rugby clubs “and found 15 new friends….

Such was Jon’s passion for sport that our old school, Wolverhampton Grammar School, has established the Mills Golf Trophy, a claret jug presented annually in recognition of his contribution to the setting up of the now annual alumni sports festival.”

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PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata. After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata. In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer. Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream. So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.

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