Tributes paid to Farsley Cricket Club legend Ray Illingworth

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The flag flying at half-mast at Farsley Cricket Club in remembrance of Ray Illingworth. Photo: Farsley Cricket Club

Tributes have poured in for Pudsey-born cricket legend Ray Illingworth, who passed away aged 89 on Christmas Day.

Mr Illingworth was as one of England’s most successful cricket captains, leading his side to a 2-0 Ashes series victory in Australia in 1970-71, and then retaining the Ashes at home in 1972. 

He also enjoyed a successful domestic career with Yorkshire and Leicestershire, as well as playing 61 Tests for England between 1958 and 1973, scoring 1,836 runs and claiming 122 wickets.

Mr Illingworth, who had been undergoing radiotherapy for esophageal cancer, was one of the leading figures in English cricket for the best part of four decades as player, captain, commentator, administrator and coach.

He was the only child of Ida and Fred Illingworth, of Pudsey. The family moved to Farsley when he was four years old.

His father, who was a cabinet maker, made his first cricket bat in his workshop.

At 14 he was apprenticed to his father, which allowed him days off to play cricket for Farsley in the Bradford League, when cricket had just resumed after the war. Apart from the times he has been away, there hadn’t been a year when he wasn’t associated with Farsley in some form or another. 

Farsley Cricket Club, where he was groundsman well into his 70s, said cricket had “lost a great”. They posted on Facebook:

“Such a true gentleman, always had time to chat, a true legend and such a privilege to have known. RIP Ray, back with your beloved Shirley.”

They added on Twitter:

Pudsey St Lawrence added:

“Our thoughts and best wishes to the Illingworth family, Raymond was a wonderful friend to PSL and will be missed enormously by everyone at St Lawrence.”

Yorkshire County Cricket Club said in statement:

“We are deeply saddened to learn that Ray Illingworth has passed away.

“His success at county level was matched on the international scene, enjoying a long career with England as captain.

“Our thoughts are with Ray’s family and the wider Yorkshire family who held Ray so dear to their hearts.”

England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison said in a statement: “It’s always incredibly sad to lose a person who has given so much to the English game, and to the sport of cricket in general.

“Ray was a superb cricketer, and his deep love, passion and knowledge for the game meant he continued to contribute long after his playing days had finished. We send our sympathy and warmest wishes to Ray’s friends and family at this difficult time.”

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