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Former England cricket captain Bob Willis has died aged 70 after illness.

The former fast bowler, who made his Bodebut in 1971, was a key player for more than a decade and played in 90 Tests and 64 ODIs, before retiring in 1984.

Willis finished a glittering career with 325 Test wickets – fourth all-time behind James Anderson (575), Stuart Broad (471) and Ian Botham (383) – and 899 first class wickets.

Following retirement he became a popular pundit on Sky Sports, regularly delivering funny lines about the day’s play and damning verdicts on suspect performances.

A Willis family statement read:”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.”

The ECB said in a statement: “The ECB are deeply saddened to say farewell to Bob Willis, a legend of English cricket, at the age of 70. Bob spearheaded the England bowling attack for more than a decade and took 325 Test wickets.

“He will always be remembered for his outstanding cricket career, in particular his 8-43 in the dramatic Headingley Test victory over Australia in 1981. In later years as a broadcaster Bob was a perceptive and respected voice at the microphone.

“We are forever thankful for everything he has done for the game. Everyone at the ECB sends sincere condolences to his family. Cricket has lost a dear friend.”

England director of cricket Ashley Giles paid tribute to Willis: “Such sad news about Bob Willis, he was a great man.”

Willis played in the same team as Sir Ian Botham, with his hostile spell of bowling (8/43) proving pivotal in the third Test against Australia at headingly in 1981, which would later become known as the “Botham Ashes”.

Botham would describe Willis as a “tremendous trier, a great team-man and an inspiration – the only world-class fast bowler in my time as an England player.”

Willis is survived by his wife Lauren, daughter Katie, Brother David and Sister Ann.

Credit: Independent News

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