One of English cricket’s most decorated and celebrated names, Bob Willis passed away on Wednesday in Sunderland, succumbing to thyroid cancer. The legendary fast bowler was 70 and was survived by his wife Lauren, daughter Katie, brother David and sister Ann.
Although a lot of experts unofficially rated the 1981 Ashes as “Botham’s Ashes”, Bob Willis’ contribution was as important as the great English all-rounder in that series. Having made his debut in 1970, he went on to captain the side for a while from 1982 till the end of his career in 1984. In 90 Tests, he picked up 325 wickets and was the second-highest wicket-taker in Tests at the time of his retirement.
Willis’ family 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 Willis named in England’s Greatest XI by ECB
On the occasion of England’s 1000th Test match last year, Bob Willis was named in England’s greatest XI in the format. After completing his cricketing career in 1984 post the Test series against West Indies, Willis went on to become a commentator with Sky Sports. Despite receiving some flack for his not so normal tone of speaking, he went on to become one of the finest critics the broadcasting giants had.
He was also a giant in the English County, having picked up 899 wickets in 308 FC games and also had a tremendous record in List A cricket, picking up 421 wickets. The Sunderland-born fast bowler was a part of three World Cup squads, reaching the final once under Mike Brearley in 1979, which they lost to West Indies.
There were some whispers about his ill-health in the last couple of days and once his family confirmed his demise, the whole of the English sporting community went into a sombre state. Popular journalist Piers Morgan called him one of the greatest sporting personalities of the country.
Tributes followed from the newly minted BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, who believes the whole of Indian cricket community will miss the stalwart even as the others also joined him soon.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to his passing away:
The cricket world will mourn the death of Bob Willis; top cricketer, straight talking analyst on @SkyCricket. #RIP
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) December 4, 2019
So sad at the news of bob Willis .. may his soul rest in peace .. love to his entire family @bcci @SkyCricket @nassercricket .. india Will miss a stalwart ..
— Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) 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
Legendary England Captain Bob Willis passed away at 70. One the great players from the Old School. pic.twitter.com/SzSWSWsBC2
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) 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
Awful to hear the passing of Bob Willis. I was lucky to work along side him not long ago with @SkyCricket!Brilliant cricketer, very knowledgeable and a lovely guy. #rip
— James Taylor (@jamestaylor20) December 4, 2019
RIP Bob Willis, 70.
One of England's greatest ever cricketers, a fabulously acerbic commentator, and wonderfully entertaining, intelligent, uncompromising & amusing company.
Enjoyed many fun times with him.
A true British sporting legend & rare spirit. pic.twitter.com/0BTtxTnVh3
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 4, 2019
Hugely sad news about Bob Willis this afternoon. A true England great & many of us will remember cheering him on pounding in for England.
Brilliant on the TV and truly made “The Verdict” his own. pic.twitter.com/YtmSqq25mD
— Charles Dagnall (@CharlesDagnall) December 4, 2019
Yorkshire Cricket are devastated to hear of the passing of Bob Willis.
One of the Headingley heroes from the 1981 Ashes triumph. pic.twitter.com/XntBHcKVgJ
— Yorkshire CCC (@YorkshireCCC) December 4, 2019
Great human One of england’s greats. RIP bob willis you will be missed
— Angelo Mathews (@Angelo69Mathews) December 5, 2019
“A remarkable human being.“ Bob, you were truly one of the greats of this beautiful game. R.I.P. #BobWillis pic.twitter.com/Or6WE1qxa8
— Brian Lara (@BrianLara) December 5, 2019
Such sad news about a Bob Willis, the debate will never be the same #RIPBobWillis
— Heather Knight (@Heatherknight55) December 5, 2019
RIP Bob Willis. One of the greatest in the game. Wil surely miss u in world cricket. pic.twitter.com/fct5m8Gtnh
— Dhammika Prasad (@imDhammika) December 5, 2019
I wasn’t fortunate enough to see him bowl but loved his sense of humour and insights on the game.
Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Bob Willis. #RIPBobWillis
— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) December 5, 2019
Saddened at the news of the passing away of #BobWillis. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/OnxnOOkHnR
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) December 5, 2019
RIP Bob Willis. Tragic passing of one of the greats of English cricket, fearless broadcaster and gentle soul.
— Kumar Sangakkara (@KumarSanga2) December 5, 2019
Consider myself very fortunate to have spent time with Bob Willis in the @SkyCricket studios. Fantastically funny with a generous nature, Bob will be missed by us all. My thoughts are with all family and friends. RIP
— Tom Moody (@TomMoodyCricket) December 5, 2019
Such sad news to hear about Bob Willis’ passing. Best wishes to the family. A England cricketing legend. RIP Bob
— Chris Woakes (@chriswoakes) December 4, 2019
Extremely sad to hear the news of #BobWillis who passed away. What a bowler of his time and a great pundit on tv. Will surely be missed. Condolences and prayers for his family.
— Azhar Mahmood (@AzharMahmood11) December 4, 2019
Incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Bob Willis, an English cricketing great and a wonderful man… thoughts with all his family and close ones #RIP pic.twitter.com/0Wz462YyV4
— Alex Hales (@AlexHales1) 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
Saddened to hear of the passing of @englandcricket legend Bob Willis today. Thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP
— Jos Buttler (@josbuttler) 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
Bob Willis was completely different off air, to the, ‘man off his long run’, on air!
Very very funny man and loved life!
He will be missed…! #RIPBob 😢
— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) December 4, 2019
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