Phil Garner, the most successful skipper in Oxfordshire’s history, has died. He was 63.

Garner, who lived at Shipton-under-Wychwood, passed away in hospital after a short illness.

He was associated with Oxfordshire’s senior team for 23 years, including 12 seasons as captain.

Under his leadership, they enjoyed their most successful era, winning the Minor Counties Championship in 1982 and 1989 as well as being crowned Western Division champions on three other occasions.

Speaking in 1993, he said: “Captaining Oxfordshire has been without doubt the best thing I have ever done in sport.

“When I look back I think, my God, how lucky can you be?”

Originally from Walton, Liverpool, he failed to make the Oxford University team, but after gaining an honours degree in English Literature from Jesus College, he made Oxfordshire his home.

He made his county debut in 1971 and played 372 innings in 214 matches, scoring 9,482 runs at an average of 29.54.

He hit just one century, against Bucks in 1982, but was recognised as an outstanding batsman in a run chase.

An off-spinner, he took 64 wickets at an average of 25.11, twice taking five wickets in an innings with a best of 5-15 against Cornwall in 1979. An outstanding fielder, he held 117 catches.

Garner also captained the England Amateur XI.

After playing his club cricket for Cowley St John and Oxford, he joined Shipton-under-Wychwood and was a member of the side which won the National Village Cup at Lord’s in 2002 and 2003.

He went on to play for Oxfordshire Over 50s, and was a member of the side which won the ECB 50-Plus Championship at Lord’s for the first time last year.

He was still playing for the side as recently as July 8 against Warwickshire at Great & Little Tew.

Tributes have poured in.

Oxfordshire Cricket Board chairman Chris Clements said: “Phil was a remarkable man, a brilliant captain, a tough opponent and a true leader of people.”

Alan Crossley, a teammate of Garner’s, called him the Mike Brearley of Oxon cricket.

“Although small in stature, he was a giant figure both for Oxfordshire and Cowley St John and eventually achieved legendary status,” he said.

Keith Arnold, Oxon’s record-breaking wicket-taker who played under Garner’s captaincy, said: “He had faith in you and confidence, and you responded to it.

“As a tactician he was excellent. He was so committed and dedicated.”

Rupert Evans, who played alongside Garner and succeeded him as Oxfordshire skipper, added: “He made me think I was the best spin bowler in the country. It was a privilege to play in the same team as him and under him as captain.” A keen golfer, Garner was captain of Wychwood last year, and also played squash.

His other leisure interests saw him direct and take part in a number of local musicals.

During his working life, he was head of the Department of Student Services at the Oxford College of Further Education and also served on the Thames Valley Police Authority.

He leaves a widow, Mary.