Derek Primett, widely regar- ded as the greatest character in Oxfordshire cricket, has died after a long battle with illness.

Primett, 73, of Wolvercote, passed away in the Meadow View Nursing Home at Standlake on Sunday.

He had been suffering from cancer since last summer.

Born in Abingdon, he attended the old Abingdon Council School, which is now known as Larkmead.

He joined Abingdon CC at the age of 14 before going into the army at 18 to do his national service His working life began at Bruce's engineering company in Eynsham where he lived, before moving to Bicester with his work.

He then got a job as export manager for Grove Cranes in Cowley, and returned to live in Eynsham.

He went on to work as general manager for Whittle's farming company at Dorchester, later setting up as a self-employed businessman before retiring.

But it was cricket which proved the great passion in his life.

He played for Eynsham, before joining Willows in 1962.

He captained Willows 1st XI from 1967-1971 and 1974-1983 and the 2nd XI from 1990-1999.

He led the club to the Trinity League title in 1980 and 1983, amassing 11,696 runs with a top score of 87 not out and taking 82 wickets with his occasional leg spin.

He was also club chairman in 1974 and from 1984-2007, and fixture secretary between 1973 and 1991.

He became chairman of the Oxfordshire County Cricket Association's youth committee in 1972 - a role he occupied for 35 years.

'Prim', as he was known, also helped form the Oxon Over 50s side in 1986, and went on to captain or manage the team for 20 years.

A committee member in the Trinity League, he was chairman in 1993 and helped oversee the merger with the Cherwell League the following year before becoming chairman from 1996-2007 when he stepped down due to illness and was made the league's first president.

He was also a member of the South Oxfordshire Amateurs.

His fondest memories included Oxfordshire winning the old NCA Cup when they beat Northants at Trent Bridge, and seeing the large number of youngsters who progressed through the youth set-up to play Minor Counties and first-class cricket.

"In one year we had six former Oxfordshire youth players playing first-classh cricket," is one of his prouder statements.

Indeed while he was the Oxon youth chairman, the likes of current England batsman Andrew Strauss, Jamie Dalrymple, Jon Batty, Simon Cook, Rob Cunliffe, Tim Hancock, Ben Gannon and Ed Cunningham progressed through the county system to the first-class game.

Despite his illness, he retained his great sense of humour and love of the social occasion, recently going to an Oxfordshire Over 50s trial match at Cumnor to late in the evening.

Horse racing was also a great passion, as he attended many meetings and was a regular visitor to the Cheltenham Festival.

In 1955 he married Christine, who died in 1995. He leaves a son Michael and daughter Denise plus six grandchildren Henry, George, William, Victoria, Sarah and Oliver.

A funeral service will take place at Oxford Crematorium on Thursday, May 29 (3.45pm).