"WOULD you mind signing it for me please, Geoffrey?" I said. "I don't want to devalue it," came the answer as quick as a flash.

Yet there is little chance of anything devaluing 'In Sunshine and In Shadow' by Stephen Chalke, which tracks the ups and downs of life – both cricketing and otherwise – of former Yorkshire and England off-spinner Geoff Cope.

The ex-Yeadon player has packed more into his 70 years than most, including losing his parents when he was relatively young, three times being called for throwing (about the worst thing that can happen to a cricketer), having a Test hat-trick snatched away from him by Mike Brearley's honesty, seeing Yorkshire County Cricket Club go within hours of oblivion and suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, a gradual loss of eyesight that will ultimately render him blind.

On the flip side, there have been wonderful mentors such as schoolteacher Ernest Smelt, a cricket life that has been rich in friendships throughout, including Baildon-based journalist John Helm, the guidance of Johnny Wardle during those dark days when Cope was remodelling his action, helping to save Yorkshire County Cricket Club, the loyalty shown to him by his wife June and how he has raised more than £200,000 for the Guide Dogs For the Blind Association.

More than anything, however, it is Wardle and Cope's initial guide dog Kemp (there have also been Queenie and currently Lester) that touched me.

Hounded by the press in 1971 when his action was again under suspicion, Cope got a call from Freddie Trueman: "Now then, sunshine, what's all this nonsense? Your Uncle Fred will look after you."

Having travelled up to 'Fiery's' house at Flasby, near Gargrave, and bowled a couple of deliveries on the front lawn, Trueman could see nothing wrong but said: "There's only one fella to put you right – Wardle. He knows more about the game than anybody I've known."

Wardle and Cope were bolstered by a daily bacon sandwich before they started work at Wardle's house in Thorne, near Doncaster. Wardle, seen by some as a joker, a maverick or even a fool, proved himself to be a genius.

He said to Cope: "If you fail, we've failed. If you succeed, you've done it. Don't be down. You'll get through this – and when I finish with you, you'll play for England."

Cope said of Wardle: "He started talking about cricket and I just sat there. And memorised. I'd never heard the knowledge that was coming out from anybody previously.

"I was looking for this fellow who was supposed to have been a destructive element in the Yorkshire side and I couldn't find him. This guy was warm, he was caring, he was helpful, he was everything that I wanted. And he knew how to deal with me."

Eleven months later, Cope got the all-clear from Lord's – and he went on to play for England.

As part of Yorkshire County Cricket Club's 150th anniversary in 2013, they were invited to the House of Commons for drinks.

Cope recalled: "We got there at a quarter to twelve, went through security and ended up after a long walk in a room adjacent to the river.

"At a quarter past three, it was time to go. I was with Colin Dent and we hadn't a clue where we were.

"I said 'Don't worry ... Kempie, we need the front door'. He turned round and set off. We went through the big hall, up a lift, across a corridor, down another lift, up three floors, down two floors."

A security lady, who had been walking behind the dog, said: "Well, I must leave you here." Colin said: "Hang on, where's the door?" She said: "There." The dog was sitting by the front door.

* In Sunshine and In Shadow – Geoff Cope and Yorkshire cricket, by Stephen Chalke (Fairfield Books, £16).