Former England cricket captain Bob Willis dies aged 70

4 December 2019, 17:09

Bob Willis has died at the age of 70
Bob Willis has died at the age of 70. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Former England captain and Sky Sports 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.

Willis' family, who revealed he had died "after a long illness", said in a statement: "We are heartbroken to lose our beloved Bob, who was an incredible husband, father, brother and grandfather. He made a huge impact on everybody he knew and we will miss him terribly.

"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."

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.

England batsman and team captain Bob Willis in action batting
England batsman and team captain Bob Willis in action batting. Picture: PA

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."

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

"As a player he had a big heart, he'd run in, nearly 6ft 6ins, and hit the pitch hard. At his peak was one of the best three bowlers in the world," Gough said on Talksport.

"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".

He is survived by his wife
He is survived by his wife. Picture: PA

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

"Bob spearheaded the England bowling attack for more than a decade and took 325 Test wickets.

"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."

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