A PRODIGIOUSLY talented cricketer who represented England at under-15 level has died, aged 65.

Bob Finch was seen as one of the best players ever produced by Oxfordshire and spent many years as an all-rounder for Pressed Steel in Cowley and Abingdon Vale Cricket Club.

His abilities transcended several sports, while he was also a self-taught musician and a committed Catholic.

Bob Finch was born on February 21, 1954, in Oxford.

His father, Reg, worked at Pressed Steel in Cowley, while his mother, Mary, was a caretaker at St John Fisher Primary School in Sandy Lane, Littlemore.

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Growing up in Blackbird Leys, Bob was the oldest of three sports-mad brothers and attended Our Lady's Catholic Primary School.

From an early age, the youngster had a knack for picking up sports - although he would later be known for his cricket, he also competed to a high standard in swimming, athletics and javelin.

Bob was also a promising goalkeeper and was on Oxford United's books until his teenage years.

At this time, he was already earning plaudits for his cricket, representing England and Oxfordshire's age group sides.

After leaving school, Mr Finch enrolled in an apprenticeship at a company making hospital instruments in Oxford.

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But aged just 19, he suddenly left the city to join the Roman Catholic Salesian teaching order as a young priest.

He studied at university in Dublin and Durham and was away until his late 20s, although he never became a fully qualified priest.

Mr Finch had seven children - Dominic, Jacinta, Christine, Helena, Stephanie, Gregory and Anna - who are now aged between their early 20s and 30s.

After returning to Oxfordshire, he entered the care industry and worked with disabled children in Littlemore and Abingdon.

Mr Finch moved to the south Oxfordshire town when his children were growing up, becoming a PE and music teacher at St Edmund's School, before he was later forced into early retirement by the disease Sarcoidocis.

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By the time he moved to Abingdon, he already had a reputation as a prodigious cricketer, with a rare ability to bat, bowl and field to a high level.

In his younger years, the all-rounder had been selected at second XI level for Hampshire and Northamptonshire.

Closer to home, Mr Finch opened the batting for Pressed Steel, before spending 12 seasons at Abingdon Vale.

He also coached Oxfordshire's women's and under 11 boys sides, gaining a reputation as a friendly face with time for everyone who came to him.

Mr Finch was just as talented outside the sporting world, teaching himself music and learning to play the guitar.

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He played a big role in Abingdon's Catholic community, regularly singing and playing the guitar during Sunday mass.

Mr Finch died on March 24 at the John Radcliffe Hospital and is survived by his two brothers and seven children.

The former cricketer's funeral took place yesterday at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Blackbird Leys.