Tributes have been paid to a lifelong Longparish resident and cricket expert following his death at the weekend.

John Woodcock was dubbed “the sage of Longparish” for his extensive knowledge of the game, following decades working as a cricket correspondent for newspapers including The Times.

He passed away on Sunday, July 18 at the age of 94, with fellow village resident Henry Yelf paying tribute to him as a “well-loved Longparish resident, known throughout the cricket world”.

Current Times cricket correspondent, Mike Atherton, said that John was “one of the finest of cricket writers and wonderful company,” adding: “A life well lived.”

John was born on August 7, 1926, in Longparish to the village rector. His family relocated to Oxford in the 1930s, when he attended school and university. Even at an early age, his interest in sport was apparent, playing a range of sports including his beloved cricket.

However, tragedy almost struck during his teenage years, when he developed septic arthritis which was almost fatal. He was strapped into a frame for months by doctors in order to try and prevent the infection’s spread, and though he survived, was left with a damaged hip for the rest of his days.

With initial thoughts of becoming a teacher, a meeting with The Daily Telegraph’s cricket commentator, E.W Swanton, saw a change of career as he started working for the BBC at Test matches. He would subsequently write for the Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian) as cricket commentator on the back of this, later becoming its London sports editor.

In 1954, he was hired as cricket commentator for The Times, a role he would hold for more than three decades as he covered matches across the world. During this time, he would often bring cricketers from all over the world back to his Longparish home to play the local team in the break between test matches.

In 1963, South African touring side the Staggerers asked to play on a village green and so John assembled a team of international cricketers, including former England captain Sir Len Hutton and ex-Australian captain Richie Benaud, to play them in Longparish.

In the end, the John Woodcock XI lost by just one wicket despite a strong showing, but leaving a memorable game of cricket for the ages.

Though he retired from The Times in the 1980s, he still continued to contribute, with his final piece published in 2020. He was also recognised widely for his work, receiving an OBE in 1996 for services to sports journalism.

He also continued to organise events in Longparish during his twilight years, being a regular fixture at cricket matches as well as organising visits from figures such as Henry Blofeld, the former Test Match Special commentator.