Acclaimed broadcaster and television personality Sir Michael Parkinson, who died at his Maidenhead home yesterday aged 88, played cricket for South Wilts in the mid-1950s during his National Service spent at the Southern Command signal station based a mile or so away at  Wilton Fugglestone Camp.

A cricket fanatic, he played in the Yorkshire League for his home town club Barnsley alongside Sir Geoffrey Boycott and Harold 'Dickie' Bird, the well known Test umpire.

Sir Michael was 19 years of age when he played for South Wilts in 1956 and again the following season when he was a junior officer at Southern Command.

His record shows that during his first season at Wilton Road he scored 294 runs at an average of 49 and took 22 wickets averaging 11.45 runs per wicket.

Sir Michael Parkinson, who was president of Maidenhead & Bray cricket club and lived on the boundary edge of the Berkshire club's Thameside ground, returned to Salisbury in October 2011, to help South Wilts celebrate the building of their new £1.2million pavilion.

The celebrated television and radio star joined club members and invited guests at the Guildhall for a black tie event for an event that raised more than £12,000.

Sir Michael, then 78, told them it had been a nostalgic return and was struck by the friendliness of the club, and praised members for their efforts in finding the funding for the new building.

In an after-dinner speech, he said he had spent part of the day in Salisbury looking over some of the places he visited when first in the city. “I even went to the house where I used to date a girl and I have to tell you I was a little frightened she might come out,” he joked.

Reflecting on his cricket career, he said: “It was a different game down here.  The Yorkshire league had been tough and all about results. Here, it was friendlier."

A close friend and teammate of Alan Ayres, the late South Wilts president, he recalled from his Bemerton playing days how the cricketers would come back to the mess after home matches - and leave him with the bar bill!

A memento of his visit - a front page especially designed for the occasion by the Salisbury Journal’s graphics team - is on the wall in the South Wilts clubhouse. Fittingly it carried the headline Parky’s Return.