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Tributes paid to former Suffolk, Mildenhall and Exning cricketer Russell Catley

Suffolk County Cricket Club chairman Andrew Squire has paid tribute to the county’s former opening batsman Russell Catley, who has died at the age of 47, writes Nick Garnham.

Catley, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2004, passed away on Tuesday, December 1 at Arthur Rank Hospice in Great Shelford, just outside Cambridge, where he was cared in his final months.

Catley made his debut for Suffolk in the Minor Counties Championship just after his 19th birthday in a four-wicket win against Cumberland at Carlisle in May 1992.

Russell Catley (43536574)
Russell Catley (43536574)

His last appearance was in a Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy preliminary round tie away to Devon in August 2003.

He made a total of 63 appearances for Suffolk in the Minor Counties Championship, scoring 2,840 runs at 28.40 with a highest score of 130 not out. He also took 22 wickets at 28.81 with best figures of 4-57.

The former Exning and Mildenhall player also made 25 appearances for Suffolk in the one-day knock-out competition under its various guises, scoring 691 runs at an average of 36.36, with a top score of 82. He claimed two wickets at 28 apiece, with best figures of 2-28.

He also appeared in nine List A matches, scoring 152 runs at 16.88, with a highest score of 65.

Suffolk CCC chairman Squire said: “Another incredibly sad time for Suffolk Cricket to hear of Russell Catley’s passing.

“Many of us know that Russell hadn’t been very well for a number of years and this illness curtailed his cricket career far too early. I’m sure Russell would have captained Suffolk CCC during this period and he would have probably made it into the top ten run scorers.

“Russell was a fantastic cricketer and his passion for the game was clear to see whenever we played together for Suffolk CCC and Mildenhall CC or against him for his Exning CC family and Old Ipswichians CC.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with the Catley family and friends.”

When Catley was joined in the Suffolk side by younger brothers Matt and Tim for the Minor Counties Championship match versus Bedfordshire in June 1999, it was the first time that three brothers had played for Suffolk in the same match.

It was also believed to be the first time that this feat had been achieved anywhere in Minor Counties cricket since the Second World War from 1939-45.

Catley, who was born in Cambridge, grew up alongside his two brothers playing for Exning, where father Tony was club secretary and captain, before playing for Old Ipswichian CC and Mildenhall CC.

After he was initially diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2004, Russell battled bravely, courageously and optimistically over the following years and returned to playing with Exning CC for a couple of years before turning out for first Camden CC and then Helions Bumpstead CC.

Russell, who was also a playing member of the MCC, leaves a wife, Jeanine, and daughter Lucia to whom he was a devoted father and husband.

A private funeral has been arranged for family and close friends only due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Donations can be made to the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity via this link.

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