Willis died at the age of 70 last night
Former English fast bowler, Bob Willis, passed away last night aged 70. Willis made his debut for England in 1971 and played in 90 Tests in 13 years, picking 325 wickets and even captained the side in the latter stages of his career.
England great Bob Willis 1949-2019
May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/EsqgYX8qAL
— ICC (@ICC) December 4, 2019
At the time of his retirement, Bob Willis was the second-highest wicket-taker in Tests, ending up only behind Australian quick, Dennis Lillee. Willis’ career-best performance came in that famous Headingley Ashes Test in 1981.
Australia declared at 401/9 and England were bowled out for 174 in reply. They were asked to follow-on and Sir Ian Botham scored a famous 149 in just 148 balls to take England to 356 in their second essay, setting Australia a small target of 129.
However, they did not account for Bob Willis. The pacer ripped apart the line-up, picking up 8-43 to bundle out Australia for 111 to give England the victory of a lifetime and a memory that was spoken about for ages.
Ben Stokes’ innings in this year’s Ashes, where scored a scintillating 135* to help England chase down a mammoth 359 in the fourth innings at Headingley was reminiscent of that famous Ian Botham century, and set in stone the notion of being England’s first proper all-rounder since the great man retired.
Willis was a beloved figure in England and across the cricket world, as he impressed even in his second innings as a commentator and pundit, and was covering games even as recent as England’s tour to New Zealand.
As expected, the tributes poured in for the English great:
— Sir Vivian Richards (@ivivianrichards) December 4, 2019
Waking to the sad news of the passing of the great Bob Willis. Red wine and story time Smithy’s will never be forgotten Bob. Wonderful man to work with and one champion of a bowler. RIP #BobWillis Thoughts with Lauren and the family..
— Simon Doull (@Sdoull) December 4, 2019
Very sad news to hear the passing of Bob Willis.. One of England’s greatest ever.. Huge heart that was fierce in all battles let alone the Ashes... Only met him a few times but was always a gentlemen and just loved the game of cricket.. #BobWillis#RipBobWillis#England#Greathttps://t.co/i37YtAmXNe
— Damien Martyn🏏 (@damienmartyn) December 4, 2019
— Brian Lara (@BrianLara) December 5, 2019
— Glenn McGrath (@glennmcgrath11) December 4, 2019
Such sad news regarding the legend Bob Willis
An icon of the game I love,growing up as an 11 year old watching big Bob running down the hill 8/43 at the home of cricket Headingley
I’ll miss you Bob
A glass of red will be raised tonight x🏏🙏
— Darren Gough (@DGoughie) December 4, 2019
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
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
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
RIP Bob Willis ❤️
A true great of the game! He will be sorely missed!
Our thoughts go out to Bob's family and friends. pic.twitter.com/IiihvMAMdw
— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) December 4, 2019
Oh no, not Bob Willis... what joy he gave, and what a marvellous man. That 8 for 43. Used to lunch with him occasionally to talk cricket, Wagner and Bob Dylan, his three great passions.
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) December 4, 2019
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
Just saw the news on Bob Willis and very sad indeed. Had the pleasure of working with him for @SkyCricket and off air I just loved listening to his great stories on how they played the game back in the day. RIP Great man🙏🏼#onceabearalwaysabear
— Allan Donald (@AllanDonald33) December 4, 2019
Sir Ian Botham often referred to Willis as the ‘only world-class fast bowler’ England possessed and the world will truly miss that famous bowling action which many a kid in the 80’s tried to replicate.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @surreycricket