Advertising

Former England captain Bob Willis dies aged 70

UK Sport | Published:

The bowler was a long-term fixture in the England Test and one-day teams.

Former England captain and cricket pundit Bob Willis has died at the age of 70.

The pace bowler played 90 Tests for England and has been a popular figure in broadcasting since his retirement in 1984.

It is understood Willis, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago, had begun to deteriorate in health over the last two months, with a recent scan revealing the cancer had advanced.

“Bob is survived by his wife Lauren, daughter Katie, brother David and sister Ann.

“The Willis family has asked for privacy at this time to mourn the passing of a wonderful man and requests that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to Prostate Cancer UK.”

It is understood Ian Botham went to see his former team-mate earlier this week, with fellow former England players John Lever and David Brown visiting on Wednesday before Willis died.

Advertising

Willis’ most famous moment as a player came in the 1981 Ashes series as his eight for 43 fired England to a remarkable win in the third Test at Headingley.

He is England’s fourth highest wicket-taker of all time with 325 wickets.

Willis’ former county Surrey paid tribute on Twitter, saying: “All at Surrey County Cricket Club are devastated to learn of the passing of former Surrey and England bowler Bob Willis.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”

Advertising

Former England fast bowler Darren Gough said Willis was “hugely admired”.

Australia’s Kim Hughes’ cap flies off manoeuvring out the way of a Willis bouncer
Australia’s Kim Hughes’ cap flies off manoeuvring out the way of a Willis bouncer (PA)

“He was hugely admired all around the world. Everybody knew who he was.

“If you just saw him on TV people might think he’s a bit straight, but in his company over a glass of wine he would make you laugh all night.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board said that “cricket had lost a dear friend”.

“The ECB is deeply saddened to say farewell to Bob Willis, a legend of English cricket, at the age of 70,” a statement read.

Willis in the pavilion at Headingley after he bowled England to a sensational victory over Australia in 1981
Willis in the pavilion at Headingley after he bowled England to a sensational victory over Australia in 1981 (PA)

“He will always be remembered for his outstanding cricket career, in particular his eight for 43 in the dramatic Headingley Test victory over Australia in 1981.

“In later years as a broadcaster Bob was a perceptive and respected voice at the microphone. We are forever thankful for everything he has done for the game.

“Everyone at the ECB sends sincere condolences to his family. Cricket has lost a dear friend.”

An emotional Paul Allott described Willis as a “sweet, sweet guy” with whom he had become very close friends.

Allott, a team-mate and former broadcasting colleague of Willis, told Sky Sports News: “I was there when Bob passed away with Lauren his wife and daughter in Wimbledon this afternoon.

“It was a peaceful passing but it was obviously a hugely emotional moment.

“We’ve known each other for more than 40 years. We played together. He was my first vice-captain for England and he took me under his wing in India.

“Beneath that quite stern exterior that he portrayed on Sky Sports there was a heart of gold.

“He was an extremely kind and gentle individual and we became the very best of friends.

“Not only did we play together but we worked in the commentary box together where I probably had the best part of 20 to 25 years with him. We had an absolutely wonderful time. Bob was such a sweet, sweet guy.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Advertising

Top Stories

Advertising

More from the Guernsey Press

UK & International News