THE East Lancashire Cricket Club’s record-holding wicket keeper has died.

Ray Kelly passed away aged 84 at his Mellor home on Sunday after a long illness.

He played for the Lancashire League first team of the club, based at the Alexandra Meadows ground in Dukes Brown in Blackburn, for more than 20 years from the mid-1950s.

The former painter and decorator held its record of 635 dismissals behind the stumps and was also a committee member for many years.

His son Paul, a 45-year-old builder, said: “He was a faultless man - very hard-working and very honest.

“He was a loving father who dragged us to cricket at every opportunity.

“He also played football but cricket was his number one sporting passion.

“My father was a very good wicket keeper and a bit of batsman who nurdled a few runs for the team.

“He had a very dry sense of humour and lightened up any gathering or team he was part of. He will be much missed.”

As well as Paul, who played for East Lancashire CC’s first team as an all-rounder, he leaves two daughters- Paula (61) and Gillian (60) - six grandchildren and a partner, Marian Lofthouse.

His funeral will take place at St Peter’s Church in Salesbury at 1pm on Wednesday after which he will be interred in the graveyard where his late wife Alisson is also buried.

An East Lancashire CC statement said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our former wicket keeper Raymond Kelly.

“Ray made over 480 league and cup appearances for the first XI, holding a club record of 635 victims behind the stumps. Ray was also a dedicated member of the cricket committee for many years spending hours working on the ground, maintaining our facilities and upholding the traditions and standards set at The Meadows."

The statement adds: “Like at many of our local clubs he gave his time generously to keep us going. We will miss him greatly.

“Our thoughts and prayers got out to Gillian, Paula, Paul, Marion and the Kelly family.”