Former England Bob Willis passed away on Wednesday at the age of 70 after his short battle with cancer. The legendary fast-bowler, who will be always remembered for his role in England’s famous victory in the 1981 Ashes, is survived by his wife Lauren, daughter Katie, brother David and sister Ann.
He was the mainstay of England for over a decade and represented his country in 90 Tests and 64 one-day internationals after his debut in 1971. During his Test career, he picked up an impressive 325 wickets and is still the fourth highest Test wicket-taker for England. In ODIs, he picked up 80 wickets. After bringing down curtains on his illustrious playing career, Bob Willis went on to enjoy a long career in broadcasting after his retirement in 1984.
“We are heartbroken to lose our beloved Bob, who was an incredible husband, father, brother and grandfather,” his family said in a statement. “He made a huge impact on everybody he knew and we will miss him terribly.”
An illustrious career:
Bob Willis was known for his hostile bowling. He was one of the main characters in what became known as ‘Botham’s Ashes’ in 1981. After Ian Botham’s counter-attacking 149 not out shifted the momentum towards England, Willis sealed an incredible 18-run win for his team with figures of 8 for 43. He retired in 1984 and was England’s leading wicket-taker, and second in the world overall at that time.
It was nothing less than a miracle that Willis went on to play so long for England after suffering several injury setbacks. He had to overcame surgery on both knees in 1975. After going under the knife in 1975, he rarely bowled without having pain in his knees. He also captained the England team in 18 Tests and 28 ODI matches between June 1982 and March 1984. Under Willis’s captaincy England won seven, lost five and drew six Tests, and won 16 of the ODIs.
After retirement, Willis went on to forge a career in the media. Most recently, he was a popular pundit on Sky Sports’ post-match show, The Verdict.