Former Test player still turning his hand
By David Markham
On the verge of his 70th birthday, you might think that Ray Illingworth might be ready to put his feet up. Not a bit of it!
For, the former England, Yorkshire and Leicestershire captain is still busy working on the ground at Farsley, the Bradford League club where he learned his cricket.
Although Farsley have appointed a new Groundsman since last season, Ray Illingworth can still be seen working at the ground on most days such is his enthusiasm for the club, which is situated halfway between Bradford and Leeds.
The former Test all-rounder is chairman of Farsley while his son-in-law Ashley Metcalfe, the one time Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire batsman is captain and he uses his influence to earn much needed sponsorship income for the club.
Like everyone involved in cricket he is amazed with this dry spring.
He said: "We have a quick drying ground. Our biggest problem is not having water on it. Mark Sutton has joined us as Groundsman from one of our fellow Bradford League clubs, Yeadon, coming from a wet ground there to a dry ground with us. So, it is a learning curve for him.
Last year I had to do everything myself. I have not had time to do it and I don't want to do it so having Mark is a great help.
He wanted to move to us. He is keen and he is working hard. It must be the driest spring I can remember. I haven't seen wickets as hard as this.
The problem is that the days have been misty and miserable. We want some sunshine.
We have been doing a lot of watering, 24 hours at a time although we don't have the water pressure they have at county grounds. We haven't got the equipment.
We are watering on Sunday into Monday and then we roll the wicket as the week goes on using a three-ton motor roller.
Groundsmanship has always been a hobby of mine from being a county and England captain to being Yorkshire manager. I have always been interested in the quality of the pitches and I have spent time talking to the Groundsmen.
I like the hardest, fastest wickets that can be made and wickets to help the spinners.
When I was at Leicester we scored runs faster than anyone else, but we also bowled teams out - the wickets had extra pace and bounce. The worst wickets are the slow, dead wickets."