Dickie Bird pays tribute to ‘outstanding man’ Ray Illingworth at his funeral

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Modified Jan 27, 2022 3:23 AM IST

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Past and present Yorkshire and England cricketers were among the mourners at the funeral of Ray Illingworth. Former umpire Dickie Bird was one of those to pay tribute to the former Yorkshire, Leicestershire, and England all-rounder, who died on Christmas Day aged 89. “It’s a very very sad day,” said Bird. “I’ve lost a great friend. “He was a great cricketer and, if I had any problems in cricket, I used to give Ray a ring and he used to have a long chat with me. “Obviously I umpired many matches when he was captain of England and he was the finest captain England ever had. He was an outstanding man and an outstanding captain.”

Dickie Bird pays tribute to 'outstanding man' Ray Illingworth at his funeral  | Central Fife Times
Credits: Central Fife Times

Richard Hutton, David Byas, Martyn Moxon, Geoff Cope, and Craig White were among the former Yorkshire cricketers present at the service at St John’s Church in Farsley, near Leeds, while Steven Paterson represented the current team. Illingworth’s son-in-law Ashley Metcalfe, a former opening batsman with Yorkshire, said: “The turn-out makes you realize how special he was, he touched a lot of people’s hearts.” Illingworth, who won 61 caps for England, was one of the country’s most successful captains, leading his side to a series victory in Australia in 1970-71 and then retaining the Ashes at home in 1972. A tough Yorkshireman and an all-rounder, he won three consecutive championship titles with his home county before going on to spend a decade with Leicestershire.

He returned to Yorkshire as a manager in 1979 and came out of retirement to lead them to the Sunday League title in 1983 at the age of 51. “Anybody who plays nearly 800 games and scores more than 24,000 runs and takes 2,000 wickets is just phenomenal,” Metcalfe added. “Only eight players have played more games for Yorkshire yet he was very modest. He didn’t really speak about it but, if you asked him, he was happy to reminisce. “His legacy is huge. He was a phenomenal cricketer but, more than that, he was a phenomenal person.

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England cricketers were among the mourners at the funeral of Ray Illingworth.

“His roots were very much at home, he was a fantastic family man, so supportive and generous, he shaped and touched so many lives. “I just feel we as a family were so lucky to have such a special person around us on a day-to-day basis.” Past and present Yorkshire and England cricketers were among the mourners at the funeral of Ray Illingworth. Former umpire Dickie Bird was one of those to pay tribute to the former Yorkshire, Leicestershire, and England all-rounder, who died on Christmas Day aged 89. “It’s a very very sad day,” said Bird. “I’ve lost a great friend.

Ray Illingworth funeral: Dickie Bird pays tribute to 'outstanding man'
Credits: Cricket365

“He was a great cricketer and, if I had any problems in cricket, I used to give Ray a ring and he used to have a long chat with me. “Obviously I umpired many matches when he was captain of England and he was the finest captain England ever had. He was an outstanding man and an outstanding captain.” Richard Hutton, David Byas, Martyn Moxon, Geoff Cope, and Craig White were among the former Yorkshire cricketers present at the service at St John’s Church in Farsley, near Leeds, while Steven Paterson represented the current team.

Illingworth’s son-in-law Ashley Metcalfe, a former opening batsman with Yorkshire, said: “The turn-out makes you realize how special he was, he touched a lot of people’s hearts.” Illingworth, who won 61 caps for England, was one of the country’s most successful captains, leading his side to a series victory in Australia in 1970-71 and then retaining the Ashes at home in 1972. A tough Yorkshireman and an all-rounder, he won three consecutive championship titles with his home county before going on to spend a decade with Leicestershire. He returned to Yorkshire as a manager in 1979 and came out of retirement to lead them to the Sunday League title in 1983 at the age of 51.