Former England captain Bob Willis has died, his family announced on Wednesday. He was 70.
In a career that spanned 90 Test matches between 1971 and 1984, Willis took 325 wickets. He was England's all-time highest wicket-taker at the time of his retirement and only Australia's Dennis Lillee had taken more wickets in the longest format of the game at the time.
Willis remains fourth on the England all timers' list, behind former team mate Ian Botham (383), Stuart Broad (471) and James Anderson (575). He also played 64 ODIs and took 80 wickets.
He was captain of England for 18 Tests and 29 ODIs before his retirement in 1984.
"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," his family said in a statement.
Willis played for Surrey in his first two years of professional cricket and spent the rest of his career playing for Warwickshire. He finished his first class career with 899 wickets from 308 first-class matches at an average of 24.99.
He had needed surgery on both knees in 1975, four years after he had made his debut and still went on to become one of the most succesfull fast bowlers of all time.
I wasn’t fortunate enough to see him bowl but loved his sense of humour and insights on the game.— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) December 5, 2019
Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Bob Willis. #RIPBobWillis
Cricket has lost a dear friend.— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) 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
The great England fast bowler Bob Willis passed away. Many great times with England cricket team in the dressing rooms at the WACA during that time. Very privileged to have caught up with the great man at recent Ashes series in England. Condolences to his family. RIP Bob. pic.twitter.com/dtUjjx8EAr— Alan Abraham (@AlanAbr00021718) December 5, 2019
Remember his fast run up, the bit straightening of arms and the thunderbolts he used to send down.— D Prasanth Nair (@DPrasanthNair) December 5, 2019
Above all, remember the "....c Bob Taylor b Bob Willis" against many a batsmen#RIPBobWillis
Coming in off his long, long run he resembled nothing so much as a dervish designed by Heath Robinson. A quick take on the life of Bob Willis... https://t.co/Aj8HdpHjDW— alexmassie (@alexmassie) December 4, 2019
When Bob Willis retired in 1984, the leading wicket-takers in Test cricket were:— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) December 5, 2019
355 - Dennis Lilliee
325 - Bob Willis
312 - Ian Botham
309 - Lance Gibbs
307 - Fred Trueman
RIP Bob Willis. What an absolute hero. In newsrooms across the land there are people of a certain age trying to explain to the young ones why he mattered.— Krishnan Guru-Murthy (@krishgm) December 4, 2019