Scores of past Hampshire county and local players, team-mates and opponents have paid their last respects and sad farewell to the late Tony Baker, club cricketer supreme and Hampshire’s chief executive.

Basingstoke Crematorium was predictably crammed to almost bursting point for a moving hour-long service conducted by Canon Phil Collins as a packed congregation celebrated the life of one of Southampton’s outstanding all-round cricketers who died last month, aged 77, after a long battle against Parkinson’s disease.

Surviving team-mates from Tony’s glory days of the 60s and 70s with Old Tauntonians & Southampton Touring Club, sat alongside past rivals from a host of Southern League clubs and a dozen or more former Hampshire county cricketers and office staff.

Tony’s eldest son, Paul, read the eulogy.

“It was so important to me to make my lovely, wonderful, father proud, “ he said.

He did that and more.

Tony would have been proud of the way his son carried off one of life’s most difficult readings.

Mr Baker’s tremendous sense of humour was reflected in his son’s address, which was warmly applauded, as was Tim Tremlett’s tribute which followed.

Reflecting on his father’s life in cricket and in business, Paul spoke of the ‘wonderful family atmosphere’ his father had helped create at Northlands Road, the home of Hampshire cricket until 2001 prior to the move to the Ageas Bowl.

“Some of his happiest days were at Northlands Road and was proud that under his tenure players like David Gower, Matthew Hayden, Malcolm Marshall and Shane Warne all joined the club,” he recalled.

In club cricket, Tony Baker was an integral part of the Old Tauntonians side of the 60s and 70s, a team which included local legends like Tim Binks, Derek Tulk and Bernie Thomason, who wasn’t fit enough to attend the funeral.

“They were a formidable team, winning three of the first five Southern League titles,” said Paul, who will be running next year's Southampton half marathon with brother Jonathan in memory of their father.

“On Sunday, it was Southampton Touring Club, under the unique Harold Longman, with a fabulous fixture list and the annual tour of North Devon.

“It was on tour that Tim Binks scored his 100th century – a fantastic achievement few club cricketers have ever achieved. I was proud to be in the team that day.

Paul made special reference to one specific century – made for the Touring Club against the touring Australian Old Collegians at the old County Ground, when Simon Lane, his great friend from Adelaide, was his batting partner.

“Chasing down 235, Touring Club were 234 without loss and dad has made 122 not out. Simon is unbeaten on 99,” he smiled.

“The pair met in mid-wicket to discuss how Simon, who had lost the strike, could reach his hundred against his Australian counterparts.

“Tony said “we’ll pinch a quick single, and then you can hit the winning runs, against your own team, whilst bringing up your hundred” !

“Brilliant!What could possibly go wrong? The very next ball dad leaned forward to nudge the single, got an inside edge that narrowly evaded his leg stump, and flew off down to fine leg for 4.”

“Simon was marooned on 99 not out. His comments were unprintable.”

It was with the ball that Tony Baker showed his bowling prowess more than once – particularly in 1972 when he took all ten Netley Sports wickets for 26 in the Hector Young Trophy final in the Parks.

He did more than his fair stint off the field too – doing virtually all the Touring Club’s admin before becoming treasurer and later chairman of the old Southern League and later moving on to work for Hampshire, becoming their first ever Chief Executive in 1986.

A Saints season ticket holder at The Dell, Tony was a fine basketball player, a member of Stoneham golf club and a successful race horse owner with Findon-based trainer Josh Gifford.

But Tony Baker dedicated his life to cricket.

Adjectives like honest, kind, genuine, intelligent continually cropped up in the countless tributes made. Not a bad template to live your life by...

Sadly, Tony was the type of sportsman we will rarely see again.