Bob Willis Wiki – Bio
Bob Willis’s complete family name is Robert George Dylan Willis MBE was an English cricketer, who played for Surrey, Warwickshire, Northern Transvaal, and England. A right-handed and aggressive fast bowler with a notably long run-up, Willis spearheaded several England bowling attacks between 1971 and 1984, across 90 Test matches in which he took 325 wickets at 25.20 runs per wicket, at the time second only to Dennis Lillee. He is England’s fourth-leading wicket-taker as of 2019, behind Jimmy Anderson, Ian Botham, and Stuart Broad. Willis took 899 first-class wickets overall, although from 1975 onwards he bowled with constant pain, having had surgery on both knees. He nevertheless continued to find success, taking a Test career-best eight wickets for 43 runs in the 1981 Ashes series against Australia, one of the all-time best Test bowling performances. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year for 1978.
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. pic.twitter.com/hTzuyNaz4X
— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) December 4, 2019
In addition to the Test arena, Willis played 64 One Day International matches for his country, taking 80 wickets, and was a prolific List-A (one-day) cricketer with 421 wickets overall at 20.18. As a tail-ender, Willis made little impression with the bat, with a top Test score of 28 not-out (*); however, he managed two half-centuries at first-class level, and for a time held a record number of Test not-outs. Willis 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. Botham recalled Willis as “a tremendous trier.. a great team-man and an inspiration”, as well as the “only world-class fast bowler in my time as an England player”. The editor of Wisden wrote of him in similar terms: “His indomitable service to England is handsomely reflected in his great collection of Test wickets. Although often beset with aches and pains, he never spared himself when bowling for his country.”
Bob Willis Quick Facts You Need to Know
Willis was born in Sunderland, Durham County, and grew up in the village of Storey d’Abernon in Surrey, near Cobham. He moved there at the age of six. His father was an employee of the BBC; Willis had an older brother named David, with whom he played cricket in the garden, and an older sister. In 1965 Willis added his third name “Dylan” in a poll in honor of American musician Bob Dylan, whose fan he was. Willis trained at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford and played his first cricket for the Stoke d’Abernon Cricket Club, where he later became vice president and life member, and two seasons for the Cobham Ivorians. He was also an avid footballer, but he was not a natural athlete and he hated rugby, which was the school’s dominant sport. Willis recalled in 2009 that during his school years “during the winter, when muscular brothers played, I played football with old schoolboys, which taught me how to drink cider and vomit at the Surbiton station and other things in life.” Change the lesson. His bowling potential was rewarded with the selection of Surrey Schools and Surrey Colts under the direction of Watcyn Evans, who was to become a close friend.
Willis married his wife Juliet in 1980. They had a daughter, Katie, born in 1984. In 2005, it was reported that Willis’s relationship with his wife had ended. Willis previously had a non-marital affair between 1991 and 1995 when she was released after leaving secretary Lauren Clark’s address. Although born in Sunderland, Willis lived in Manchester at a young age and was an avid follower of Manchester City FC after first attending a game on Maine Road in 1954 and watching the 1955 FA Cup final against Newcastle had United.
Former England captain Bob Willis has died at the age of 70
The @EnglandCricket great took 325 wickets in 90 Tests from 1971 to 1984
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) December 4, 2019
Death and Cause
Willis died on 4 December 2019 after a brief battle with thyroid cancer.
We’re very sad to hear of the passing of MCC Honorary Life Member, Bob Willis.
A Lord’s legend & former England captain whose name is on the Honours Boards three times.
Our thoughts are with his friends and family. pic.twitter.com/KgyQbHdYqq
— Lord’s Cricket Ground (@HomeOfCricket) December 4, 2019
Fast Facts You Need to Know
- The fast bowler took 325 wickets in 90 Tests from 1971 to 1984, claiming a career-best 8-43 to help England to a famous win over Australia at Headingley in the 1981 Ashes.
- He captained England in 18 Tests and 29 one-day internationals before his retirement from all forms of cricket in 1984.
- In a statement, Willis’ family said he had died “after a long illness”.
- “We are heartbroken to lose our beloved Bob, who was an incredible husband, father, brother, and grandfather,” the statement continued.
- “He made a huge impact on everybody he knew and we will miss him terribly.”
- He continued to work for Sky and was part of their coverage of this summer’s Ashes series.
- The England and Wales Cricket Board said it was “deeply saddened to say farewell” to a “legend of English cricket”.