LEGENDARY East Lancashire cricketer and businessman, Peter Wood, has died aged 70.

The former Rawtenstall captain passed away suddenly in Australia on Wednesday (January 26).

Widely regarded as one of the finest amateur batsmen to play in the Lancashire League, Mr Wood, a Wisden Hall of Fame inductee, held the record for most career runs until it was broken by Mike Ingham in 2003.

A spokesperson for Rawtenstall Cricket Club said: "All at RCC are deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing in Australia of Peter Wood.

"Pete was not only the best amateur Rawtenstall have produced, he was regarded by many as the finest amateur to play Lancashire League cricket.

"Our thoughts are with all his family now, in particular Julia, Becky, Sophie and Dave.

"His association with Rawtenstall goes back to the 60s and his list of achievements are as long as his history with the club. A true legend of Rawtenstall Cricket Club."

He hit 14,951 runs at an average of 34.0 including 12 centuries and 99 half-centuries, making his debut at the age of 16 in 1968 before eventually retiring in 1996.

Mr Wood's 1,227 runs at an average of 53.3, including an amateur record 13 half-centuries in 1991, remains the most recorded in a season by an amateur batsman.

On two occasions, he beat his own seasonal club batting record of 912 runs set in 1978, with 917 runs in 1980 and the same tally again in 1991.

He won the Lancashire League Senior Batting Award six times between 1974 and 1991.

He was a member of Rawtenstall's championship winning teams of 1976 and 1981, and of the Worsley Cup winning sides of 1976, 1985 and 1990.

Mr Wood played in two John Player League games for Nottinghamshire in 1982 and he also played five times for Cumberland in 1982 and 1983.

He represented the Lancashire League on many occasions between 1974 and 1994 and he also appeared for the League Cricket Conference and Lancashire Cricket Association.

After a spell as professional at Walshaw in 1975, he took over as Rawtenstall captain from Keith French in 1977, leading the side until the end of the 1981 season and again in 1985 and 1986.

He joined Norden as professional in 1982 and moved to Blackburn Northern in the Ribblesdale League in 1983.

Mr Wood even impressed while spending two years in South Africa, being named Natal’s ‘Most Promising Young Cricketer’ in 1969 before resuming his Lancashire League career in 1971.

During his career, Mr Wood faced some of the best bowlers in the world, taking on the likes of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Allan Donald and Kapil Dev.

In June 2020, Mr Wood was inducted into a Hall of Fame curated by popular cricket magazine, Wisden.

As well as being a renowned cricketer, Mr Wood also franchised four McDonalds restaurants in East Lancashire, including one in Darwen, creating many jobs in the area.