Former England skipper and ace pace bowler Bob Willis, who famously bowled England to a dramatic Test win against Australia in 1981, has died aged 70, his family has announced.
Willis played in 90 Tests, taking 325 wickets with his aggressive pace bowling and also captained England for a spell before retiring in 1984 and taking up a career in broadcasting.
England great Bob Willis 1949-2019
May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/EsqgYX8qAL
— ICC (@ICC) December 4, 2019
His most famous moment as a player came in the 1981 Ashes series, known as “Botham’s Ashes” for Ian Botham’s devastating displays with bat and ball, when he took 8-43 in a remarkable spell of fast bowling in the third Test at Headingley that changed the course of the series.
It is understood that Willis, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago, had begun to deteriorate in health over the past two months, with a recent scan revealing the cancer had advanced.
“We are heartbroken to lose our beloved Bob, who was an incredible husband, father, brother and grandfather,” said a statement from the Willis family.
“He made a huge impact on everybody he knew and we will miss him terribly.” The England and Wales Cricket Board said it was deeply saddened by Willis’s death, adding: “Cricket has lost a dear friend”.
“He will always be remembered for his outstanding cricket career…. In later years as a broadcaster Bob was a perceptive and respected voice at the microphone,” the ECB said in a statement.
Iconic all-rounder Botham previously described his teammate as a “tremendous trier, a great team man and an inspiration — the only world-class fast bowler in my time as an England player”.
Tributes from cricketers flowed on Twitter :
Stuart Broad , England seamer
Gutted to hear the news of Bob Willis passing. A lovely person with a great humour who was so proud of England cricket. Legend. pic.twitter.com/g4AQcnRK4n
— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) December 4, 2019
Joe Root, England Test Skipper
Reat in peace Bob. A true England great. Fantastic player, pundit and a lovely man with a great sense of humour. Love to all his close family and friends as well. #RIPBobWillis pic.twitter.com/6DqHcyDc4y
— Joe Root (@root66) December 4, 2019
Nasser Hussian, Former England Skipper
Great cricketer .. even better bloke RIP Bob pic.twitter.com/nq7TnbpsAg
— Nasser Hussain (@nassercricket) December 4, 2019
Michael Vaughan, Former England Skipper
RIP Bob .. Such sad news to wake up to .. A hero of mine .. Great cricketer .. Incredibly entertaining pundit .. More importantly an unbelievable bloke .. !! https://t.co/VDzuKYRUY1
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) December 4, 2019
James Anderson, England seamer
Incredibly sad to hear the news about Bob Willis. He was a true great, generous in sharing his knowledge about the game and a lovely man. RIP Bob x pic.twitter.com/HYJbLlQJRZ
— James Anderson (@jimmy9) December 4, 2019