Tributes have flooded social media following the news that legendary England cricketer Bob Willis has died.
Willis’s family announced the tragic news on Tuesday afternoon following a short illness, having passed away at the age of 70.
"We are heartbroken to lose our beloved Bob, who was an incredible husband, father, brother and grandfather," his family said in a statement.
"He made a huge impact on everybody he knew and we will miss him terribly."
Willis ended his career with 325 Test wickets, which puts him fourth on the all-time list for England behind James Anderson, Ian Botham and Stuart Broad. His standout display at Headingley in taking eight wickets for 43 runs immortalised his legacy as one of the iconic displays in the third Ashes Test, swinging the series in England favour in what became known as ‘Botham’s Ashes’.
The England and Wales Cricket Board posted a short message on Twitter that simply read “Cricket has lost a dear friend”, along with a statement on their website that read: “The ECB is 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.”
Current managing director of England cricket Ashley Giles said: “Such sad news about Bob Willis, he was a great man.”
The Yorkshire County Cricket Club issued a statement that read: Yorkshire Cricket are devastated to hear of the passing of Bob Willis. One of the Headingley heroes from the 1981 Ashes triumph.”
Ex-England batsman Michael Carberry added: “Very sad to hear the passing of Bob Willis. Had the pleasure of working with him on @SkyCricket. Great man and knowledge of the game as well as a great bowler.#ripbobwillis.”
Former England football captain Gary Lineker said: “Saddened to hear that Bob Willis has died. One of our greatest fast bowlers. Met him on many occasions and he was always great company with a sense of humour that was as sharp as his bowling. #RIPBob”
Former cricket correspondent of The Guardian Mike Selvey, a teammate of Willis for England, said: “Just received the saddest of sad news. Bob Willis, great fast bowler, opponent, team mate, room mate, and wonderful bloke has passed away. Condolences to Lauren and family.”
Television presenter Stephen Fry said: “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.”
After retiring from the game in 1984, Willis took to a media career and had been a prominent figure on Sky Sports for the last three decades.
Managing director of Sky Sports, Robert Webster, said: “Our hearts go out to Bob’s family at such a sad time. We’ve lost an icon of sport and a wonderful man.”
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