ALAN Pratt was a man who lived for his cricket – be that playing and volunteering for his village club or hosting international teams at The Riverside Ground.

Mr Pratt, originally from North Bitchburn, in County Durham, began playing in the 1950s and earned himself a reputation across the region as a competent and competitive opening batsman and fielder.

When he was 64-years-old he played his last game for North Bitchburn Cricket Club, against Belford House in Sunderland, though he had been semi-retired for some years by then.

Son Ian said: “I was captain that day and was short so called him on. He got hit in the head and ended up with £350 worth of dental damage. We decided he wouldn’t play again.”

After leaving King James Grammar School in Bishop Auckland, Mr Pratt completed national service at RAF Lincoln and went on to work for Midland Bank which became HSBC.

In 1962 he married Myra and they moved to Chester-le-Street.

Mr Pratt retired from the bank in the 1990s and worked at The Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street, selling tickets and looking after visiting international teams such as Australia, the West Indies and Pakistan, until 2014.

Mr Pratt, passed away in a care home on April 7, aged 81.

He and his wife, who died in 1996, are survived by Ian, who was born while Mr Pratt was helping North Bitchburn CC to a cup final win, and granddaughter Rebecca.

The Northern Echo:

Alan Pratt, far right on the front row, lines up with North Bitchburn cricket team in the 1970s.

Back L-R Dennis Seymour, Maurice Foster, Jeff Clark, Fred Stewart, Trevor Dunn, Neil Liddle; Front L-R Gordon Gibson, John Phelan, Denis Bateman (captain), Graham Dunn, Alan Pratt. Front, Mr Pratt's son Ian Pratt (scorer).

Ian said: “He was a competitive cricketer and was a big part of North Bitchburn Cricket Club during the 1970s and 80s when it was really successful, especially for a village team.

“He didn’t get his first century until late on in his playing career, somewhere about the 1990s at Swalwell.

“He played for Felling for several years, captaining their second team, and went back to North Bitchburn to help look after the ground.

“He was treasurer a lot of years and was a big part of getting a modern tearoom to replace the old wooden military hut in the 80s. Mam did the teas and his dad, Joe, was secretary.

“He was also treasurer for the Mid Durham Senior League for many years, set up a weekly quiz at The Red Lion in North Bitchburn and played football as a goalkeeper for Howden-le-Wear.

“He loved his family and was a very generous person but could be cantankerous and adept at winding people up. He was a Newcastle supporter but when speaking to other fans would call them rubbish, but then defend them to the end when he was talking to a Sunderland fan.”

Mr Pratt’s brother Gordon also played cricket and nephews Andrew, Neil and Gary are well-known in the sport – Gary ran out Australia’s captain Ricky Ponting for England during the 2005 Ashes series.