A POPULAR Worcestershire cricketing stalwart has died at the age of 90.

Derek Russell, one of the elder statesmen of the game, became well known for his long involvement in the county game.

Mr Russell played for Stourbridge for 19 years, Worcester City for nearly 40 years, and in that time representative cricket for the Birmingham League, Worcestershire Club and Ground, the Worcestershire Amateur Cricket League, Worcestershire Gents and the West Midlands Forty Club. In that period he played with some famous county cricketers including Glen Turner, the Richardson brothers and Martin Horton, and against Basil D’Oliveira, Reg Perks, Tom Graveney and Norman Gifford.

After his distinguished playing career he continued his involvement to the game, supporting youth cricket. He was secretary of the South Worcestershire Youth Cricket championships for 42 years, chairman of the Worcestershire Cricket Association Youth Section, and a member of the ECB and Worcestershire Association of Cricket Officials. He has had awards from Worcestershire Cricket Board, Worcester City Council and Sky TV. He was also president of the Fossils veterans cricket team for 17 years, and the latest Fossils lunch will be held on what would have been his 91st birthday, in his memory.

John Reynolds, Fossils president, said: “Derek will always be remembered by all the Fossils as a true cricket lover and gentleman, who until last year would umpire every game, turn up at every social event and sponsor the presidents day match.

"Summers will never be the same without him.”

A statement on Worcestershire County Cricket Club said: “No-one can possibly put a price on the hours of voluntary time and service Derek has given to cricket (and in particular junior cricket which was very much close to his heart).

“As a seven year old child in the 1930’s Derek used to sit outside the County Ground with his moms freshly made sandwiches waiting for the famous gates to open so that he could watch his heroes perform.

"Worcestershire Cricket has lost one of its greats. a legend, a forefather and most importantly a truly wonderful and inspirational person.”

Mr Russell passed away peacefully last Thursday morning after a recent fall, and funeral arrangements are to be announced.