Bob Willis

Infobox cricketer biography
playername = Bob Willis

country = England
fullname = Robert George Dylan Willis
living = ture
dayofbirth = 30
monthofbirth = 5
yearofbirth = 1949
placeofbirth = Sunderland
countryofbirth = England
dayofdeath =
monthofdeath =
yearofdeath =
placeofdeath =
countryofdeath =
heightft = 6
heightinch = 6
batting = Right-handed
bowling = Right-arm fast
role = Bowler
international = true
testdebutdate = 9 January
testdebutyear = 1971
testdebutagainst = Australia

lasttestdate = 16 July
lasttestyear = 1984
lasttestagainst = West Indies
odidebutdate = 5 September
odidebutyear = 1973
odidebutagainst = West Indies

lastodidate = 4 June
lastodiyear = 1984
lastodiagainst = West Indies

club1 = Surrey
year1 = 1969 – 1971
club2 = MCC
year2 = 1970/71 – 1976/7
club3 = Warwickshire
year3 = 1972 – 1984
club4 = Northern Transvaal
year4 = 1972/3

deliveries = balls
columns = 4
column1 = Tests
matches1 = 90
runs1 = 840
bat avg1 = 11.50
100s/50s1 = 0/0
top score1 = 28*
deliveries1 = 17357
wickets1 = 325
bowl avg1 = 25.20
fivefor1 = 16
tenfor1 = 0
best bowling1 = 8/43
catches/stumpings1 = 39/–
column2 = ODI
matches2 = 64
runs2 = 83
bat avg2 = 10.37
100s/50s2 = 0/0
top score2 = 24
deliveries2 = 3595
wickets2 = 80
bowl avg2 = 24.60
fivefor2 = 0
tenfor2 = 0
best bowling2 = 4/11
catches/stumpings2 = 22/–
column3 = FC
matches3 = 308
runs3 = 2690
bat avg3 = 14.30
100s/50s3 = 0/2
top score3 = 72
deliveries3 = 47990
wickets3 = 899
bowl avg3 = 24.99
fivefor3 = 34
tenfor3 = 2
best bowling3 = 8/32
catches/stumpings3 = 134/–
column4 = LA
matches4 = 293
runs4 = 615
bat avg4 = 9.46
100s/50s4 = 0/1
top score4 = 52*
deliveries4 = 14983
wickets4 = 421
bowl avg4 = 20.18
fivefor4 = 4
tenfor4 = n/a
best bowling4 = 7/32
catches/stumpings4 = 84/–
date = 7 December
year = 2007
source = CricketArchive

Robert ("Bob") George Dylan Willis (born in Sunderland 30 May 1949) is a former cricketer who played for Surrey, Warwickshire, Northern Transvaal and England. He adopted his second middle name "Dylan" by deed poll in honour of his idol Bob Dylan. He grew up in the Surrey village of Stoke d'Abernon near Cobham, was educated at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford and played his early cricket for Stoke d'Abernon Cricket Club, [ [ Stoke d'Abernon Cricket Club] ] later becoming a Vice President of the club.

Willis is most fondly remembered for what proved to be his best bowling figures of 8 for 43 at Headingley, Leeds, England in 1981 against the Australians. The match is best known as Botham's Test, when England, 7 wickets down following on, fought back thanks to 149 not out by Ian Botham. Australia were set 130 to win, and were comfortably placed at 56-1 before captain Mike Brearley, at the request of Willis, put him on to bowl downhill from the Kirkstall Lane end. Willis, aware that his test career was on the line (he had been struggling for form and with injury prior to the match) bowled with consistent pace and aggression on an unreliable wicket. Trevor Chappell, Kim Hughes and Graham Yallop were caught by close fielders, while Rod Marsh and John Dyson were caught at fine leg and behind the wicket respectively trying to play the hook shot. Then when Willis uprooted Ray Bright's middle stump Australia were bowled out for 111, losing by 18 runs, in what Richie Benaud referred to as the most amazing fightback (England had been quoted at 500-1 to win the match at teatime on day 3). [ [ Cricinfo - The great escape ] ]

Willis's England career began in 1970-71 when he was flown out to Australia as a replacement for the injured Alan Ward on Ray Illingworth's ashes winning tour. He was injury-prone himself in his early career and it was several years before he established himself in the team. After recovering from two knee operations in 1975, when he was already 26, he used a programme of long distance running to strengthen his body and hypnosis tapes to condition his mind. He seldom bowled without pain yet rarely pulled out through injury again and played 90 test matches in all. His sheer pace was a product of his thirty yard run up, his angular 6 foot 6 frame and sheer willpower rather than any semblance of a classical action. His run, with a distinctive arm flapping gait, was much parodied by Graham Gooch and by club bowlers in nets all over the country but no-one else could produce the pure pace he relied on, rather than swing or seam, to get his wickets.

He flourished under the cerebral captaincy of Mike Brearley in the late 1970s and eventually went on to become one of England's greatest-ever fast bowlers, securing 325 Test match wickets at an average of 25.20. He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1978. Willis went on to captain England 18 times in his own right, a rarity for a fast bowler, winning 7 times, losing 5 and drawing 6. His last Test, and last match of any consequence, was against the West Indies in 1984 at Headingley.

As a young player Willis was part of the Surrey side that won the County Championship in 1971. Because they were unable to guarantee him a first team place, having Geoff Arnold and Robin Jackman on the staff, he moved to Warwickshire before the 1972 season, and won the Championship with them that year. To win the Championship in two successive seasons with two different sides is a very rare feat. He was not an especially prolific county performer in his later years, often saving his energy for test duty when he was the spearhead of the attack.

His one-day international top score of 24 (at number 10), helped England to defeat Pakistan - the margin of victory was less than Willis's score. His only stroke, the 'curtain rail' forward defensive lunge, was offered to virtually every delivery he defended. When he played an attacking shot it was usually a "circular drive" that sent the ball skewing off the face of the bat to anywhere between third man and extra cover.

Despite his limitations with the bat there was some highlights.The summer of 1982 was extraordinary. He compiled his two highest test scores. He scored 28 against India at Lords, sharing a record last wicket stand (at the time) of 70 with Paul Allott. Then later in the summer he made 28 not out against Pakistan at Edgbaston, again sharing a record last wicket partnership (at the time) of 79 with Bob Taylor to swing the test England's way. He also compiled his highest ever first class score for Warwickshire against India, a contribution of 72 and in the same summer he made an unbeaten 63 against Gloucestershire, his highest ever county championship score.He finished the summer with a very creditable first class average of 27.In 1980 he shared an unbeaten last wicket partnership of 117 with Peter Willey against the West Indies. Willis' contribution was 24 not out. It took the score from 92-9 to 209-9 securing an unlikely draw. This is the only time in test history that the last pair have doubled the total.

Since retiring from playing cricket, Willis has established himself as a television commentator on Sky, though he seems to have attracted a number of detractors, who have not responded positively to his somewhat melancholy style. [ [ Turn the volume down] ] [ [;jsessionid=DPNPWYKOQVKC5QFIQMFSFFOAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/sport/2005/11/20/scnorm20.xml&sSheet=/sport/2005/11/20/ixcrick.html Sky's the pits for armchair cricket fans] ] He partnered Ian Botham in the commentary box, just as he had with the new ball so many times for England. He has also been vocal on the need for changes in English cricket, particularly through a group of former players known as the Cricket Reform Group [. [ Ex-players call for reform] ] .


External reference

* [ Cricinfo page on Bob Willis]
* [ Internet Movie Database]
* [ Stoke d'Abernon Cricket Club]

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