If Ray Bright were not still heavily involved in cricket, he would surely be a travel agent.

There have been few more travelled in the game, although the talented Victorian was just finding his wings when he landed in England in 1974.

The left-arm orthodox spin bowler had made a good fist of his second season in the Sheffield Shield competition and had toured New Zealand under Ian Chappell.

But he was looking forward to a winter of Aussie Rules football with Spotswood in Melbourne's western suburbs when everything changed.

Wasim Raja had been called up by Pakistan and could not fulfil his contract with Ramsbottom. They needed a replacement pro at Acre Bottom.

With just three weeks' notice, the 19 year-old set off on the adventure of a lifetime. And, it wasn't for the money.

"I got £1,500, but I had to get my own airfare out of that which probably was about £750.

"It didn't leave a lot, and that's why I had to work," he said.

The club got him a job at a local bleaching and dyeing factory where he started work on the Monday after making little impression in the first double-header of the season.

He said: "I just got abused by 500 workers from the company!"

Fortunately, things turned around quickly the next weekend, but Bright had learned his first lesson in the unfamiliar environment.

He added: "You're obviously expected to bat in the top four, and certainly if you don't get some runs or get some wickets, or particularly if the side's not doing very well, the locals do tend to let you know very quickly that you've been the worst pro the club's ever had."

It was a learning experience, particularly with the bat.

He said: "What I found, probably because I've got very hard hands, early on I was tending to balloon a few to mid-off or mid-on, which a lot of Australians do on the soft wickets.

"It was a matter of adapting to the different conditions and, quite often, the bowlers are a bit slower than what you're used to facing in first-class cricket back home."

But, Bright adapted quickly and scored 523 runs for the season at 30.8. And, with 73 wickets at 9.7, he helped Ramsbottom win the League for just the third time.

It was their first title since 1925, and they did it with three rounds to go!

But, it wasn't a one-man band. The Aussie is quick to pay tribute to skipper and wicketkeeper, Dally Brooks -"a very interesting character" - Billy Savage, Peter and John Ashworth (who each made more than 400 runs), and Brian Fielding and Terry Stewart, who took more than 70 wickets between them.

However, despite his success, there was a downside that Bright had not anticipated.

"Probably one of the detriments to my game was that the wickets were so slow, I ended up bowling a lot quicker.

"It took me a long, long time to renegotiate what I needed to do in Australian conditions, and I actually came back and had a very poor Australian year."

Fortunately, the form slump was shortlived, and Bright went on to keep passport control very busy.

He made a further eleven tours for Australia, taking 53 wickets in 25 Test matches, the first of which was at Old Trafford in 1977.

But, he wasn't through with Lancashire League. He had met his English-born second wife, Jacquie, on the 1977 tour, and they returned two years later after Ray's commitments in the West Indies with World Series.

Peter Sleep had been called up for an Australian tour of India, so Bright sub-pro'd for East Lancs, taking 25 wickets at 11.2 and finishing runner-up in the averages to compatriot, Mick Malone.

Just like five years earlier with Jim and Jo Topping, he was overwhelmed with the hospitality.

"I stayed with the Lomas family, Anne and Roy, who were fantastic.

"He's come out now and again and stayed with me when he's been watching an Ashes series."

Bright returned the following year for the Centenary Test at Lord's which he ranks alongside the tied Test in Madras (where he took 5-94 in the last innings) as a career highlight.

And, cricket is still his life.

He has just completed his fifth year as a selector for Victoria, the state he captained for five seasons, and is on selection for the national Under 17 and Under 19 teams.

He does quite a bit of coaching, and even came out of retirement with Sleep at last year's World Masters 20/20 tournament in Bermuda.

Jacquie and Ray have two boys - Matthew (14), whose preference is cricket, and 22 year-old Adam.

He added: "He plays professional baseball in America. He signed with Colorado Rockies four years ago.

"He's a left-arm pitcher, recently played for Australia in the World Classics and hopes to go to Beijing in 2008."