Emotional return for cricket legend Omar Henry at Micklehurst

Cricket legend Omar Henry made a nostalgic and emotional return to Micklehurst on Saturday when he was reunited with a number of former team mates.

Omar is shown a framed photo of his 243 knock for Micklehurst in 1979 and also his shirt from his first Test match for South Africa that he gave to the club

And though it was 25 years since his last visit to Richmond Hill, it was like yesterday as the South African remembered those halcyon days in which the club won the Saddleworth League title in his first season.

Henry smashed the Saddleworth League record when he scored 243 runs for Micklehurst in a Tanner Cup semi final against Newton Heath when the team amassed 340-2.

“What people may have forgotten is that I scored 160 the day before,” he recalled, remembering in detail he hit 18 sixes on the Saturday and 23 sixes in his record-breaking knock.

Yet Henry admitted he was lucky claiming he was bowled the first ball he faced only for the bails not to be removed as he had a great escape.

It was the highest score of his cricket career, though he hit another double century while playing club cricket in Scotland.

Henry, 65, was in Manchester for South Africa’s Test against England at Old Trafford and asked to come back for a trip down memory lane.

He was collected by club treasurer Julie Kippax and said: “As we drove up the lane to the ground memories came flooding back.

“I used to walk up the lane carrying my kit bag as I didn’t live far away.”

Henry says they were two happy summers spent at Micklehurst and the warmth of his welcome and hospitality afforded is still remembered with great affection.

He continued: “I was happy in this environment and that was the catalyst for me and enjoy myself. That was they key to our success that year.

“I only realised how special it was when we won the league and I saw emotions on faces. I can still remember it clearly.”

That was the last time Micklehurst won the title, an indication again as to how special an achievement it was.

Omar with former team mates

Henry, a left-hand batsman and slow left-arm bowler, later became the first non-white player to represent South Africa, though he admitted he never thought he would do so because of the politics in his home nation at that time.

He said: “When I came to Micklehurst all I wanted to do was play professional cricket.

“I never thought politics would change in my lifetime and I would represent my country.

“When I was selected, I realised there would be a lot of press attention, and I also realised the responsibilities it brought.

“But if it inspired others similar to myself, I was glad to have done it.”

Henry played three Tests and three one-day internationals for South Africa and later moved into coaching and also became chairman of selectors.

“Cricket has been good to me and in return I always gave everything and was determined to plough something back into the game,” he continued.

Henry is in the UK for a fortnight to visit family as his daughter Reyhana is married to Northants cricketer Rory Kleinveldt while son Riyaad is playing the game in Scotland.


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