TRIBUTES have been paid to ‘one of the great cricketing characters’ of the Lancashire League who has died.

Church and Oswaldtwistle Cricket Club legend Jack Houldsworth died suddenly on Saturday morning shortly after arriving at hospital.

Among his many achievements included claiming 1,246 league wickets.

Mike Bibby, chairman of the Lancashire League, said: “It is a very sad loss to the league, and the cricket club at Church and Oswaldtwistle.

“Jack was well-known as a bowler and had a tremendous reputation and played against some of the top professionals in the league.

“I know that in recent years he had not been well and I had not seen him up there when I was umpiring last year.

“It is a big shock to hear that he has died as he was a past president of the league and was also made a life member.”

The tax collector was a member of Church CC’s joy in 1974 when they won the Worsley Cup for their first and only time in their history.

Their success was a personal triumph for the pace bowler who ended with 22 wickets for 148 runs during the campaign including 6-24 in the final against Nelson.

Ian Osbourne of Church CC also paid tribute to the 83-year-old.

He said: “Jack was a true gentleman and was a key member of the cup-winning team.

“He bowled unchanged in every game which was great.

“He put his heart and soul into the club on and off the field and made his debut in 1955 as a 19-year-old and played until 1987. On every ground he was well-known and went to every game.

“He was synonymous with Church and Jack would be the player they remember.

“Jack was such a nice guy but his personality changed on the pitch as he was a really tough competition and wanted to win.”