Bob Willis, who famously bowled England to a dramatic Test win against Australia in 1981, has died aged 70, his family announced on Wednesday.
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. 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.
Star 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”.—APP