Danny Woods, one of the finest bowlers in Cheshire County Cricket Club’s history, has passed away at the age of 32.
The left-arm spinner, who had been battling cancer, twice won the Minor Counties Championship title with Cheshire and carved out a reputation as one of the best bowlers on the circuit.
Woods made his Cheshire debut in 2006 and retired from county duty in 2018 after picking up 261 wickets in 53 matches.
He picked up five-wicket hauls on 21 occasions and was part of the Cheshire title-winning sides of 2007 and 2013.
Danny Leech, who has captained Cheshire for the past couple of seasons, was a team-mate of Woods’ in that 2007 triumph.
And he was also the man leading the county when Woods played his final match against Herefordshire at Alderley Edge in 2018 – a game Cheshire won by an innings and 160 runs.
“It’s devastating. Danny was so fit and active – he was one of the fittest blokes in the side,” said Leech.
“He was the essence of what playing for Cheshire was all about. He understood the importance of representing the county.
“Even last year I was still phoning him about decisions, even though he was no longer playing, because he offered invaluable advice.
“I said when he retired that he was irreplaceable, not just for his bowling, but the example that he set.
“And it wasn’t just an example for younger players, it was for all players.”
Leech says it was down to sheer hard work that Woods, the son of Cumberland legend Malcolm, was able to become one of the best exponents of his craft.
Woods, who played his club cricket for York and also had a lengthy spell at Hyde in the Cheshire County League, would put in the hours preparing for games in order to reap the rewards out on the pitch.
“When he started playing, Danny was a left-arm spinner with talent,” added Leech.
“He then developed in to a brilliant bowler over the years – and that was down to the practice he put in. It’s all well and good being talented, but that only takes you so far.
“You have to work hard – and Danny certainly worked hard to make the most of his ability.
“I once asked him what he did in the week and he said he’d go down to York and just bowl on his own for an hour. That’s the example I used to relay to other players about the dedication you needed.
“When we won the title in 2007 Danny had only just come in to the team, but in 2013 he was clearly the reason why the team won the Championship.”
Leech admitted that Stockport-born Woods was a captain’s dream – and it was far better to be a team-mate than an opponent.
“Danny gave you control and he’d tie an end up,” said Oulton Park batsman Leech.
“In club cricket Danny was tough to face. He managed to get over the ball, which gave him dip and plenty of turn.
“He used to take a long time to bowl his overs and added a bit of theatre to proceedings.
“He took his time as though he was saying to a batsman ‘this is on my terms’. It was a clever move. Danny wanted to dictate to batsmen.
“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that he walks in to Cheshire’s best-ever side.”
Woods played representative cricket for the Minor Counties and was also featured against first-class counties for Leeds/Bradford in his university days.
He went on to become a PE teacher in Yorkshire and is survived by his wife Heather.
Cheshire County Cricket Club tweeted: “It’s with great sadness that we’ve learnt of the passing of Danny Woods, one of Cheshire’s truly great players.
“Danny leaves us at the ridiculously young age of 32 following a long illness. Our hearts are with Heather and the wider family.”
Tributes have been paid to Woods on social media.
York Cricket Club tweeted: “Rest in Peace now Woodsy. Thank you for everything. No words will take away the pain we’re feeling. We’ll never forget you.”
Nantwich Cricket Club added: “So so sad. Our thoughts go out to all his family and friends. A top cricketer but more than that a really nice lad whenever he came to play at Nantwich. #RIP”
Berkshire captain James Morris took to Twitter to say: “Incredibly sad. A fierce competitor and top man. Berkshire’s thoughts are with his family.”
Leeds/Bradford University said: “It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our former player Dan Woods at the age of 32 following a courageous battle with cancer.
“Woodsy played for us 2007-09, taking 85 wickets. Superb cricketer, but more importantly a wonderful bloke. #RIPWoodsy #alwaysayellow”