Full name Robert George Dylan Willis
Born May 30, 1949, Sunderland, Co Durham
Current age 67 years 297 days
Major teams England, Northern Transvaal, Surrey, Warwickshire
Also known as birth registered as Robert George Willis
Nickname Goose, Dylan, Harold, Swordfish
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm fast
Height 6 ft 6 in
Education Royal Grammar School, Guildford
|Test debut||Australia v England at Sydney, Jan 9-14, 1971 scorecard|
|Last Test||England v West Indies at Leeds, Jul 12-16, 1984 scorecard|
|ODI debut||England v West Indies at Leeds, Sep 5, 1973 scorecard|
|Last ODI||England v West Indies at Lord's, Jun 4, 1984 scorecard|
|First-class span||1969 - 1984|
|List A span||1969 - 1984|
A case could be made that Bob Willis was the most courageous fast bowler who ever played for England. After operations on both knees in 1975, when he was 26, he seldom bowled without pain, and at one stage had to run five miles a day to build the strength to play at all. Yet through sheer willpower he sustained his career for nine more years, and emerged with 325 wickets from his 90 Tests. Fitting as it was the last game of any consequence he played should have been for England, it was cruel that the 1984 West Indian assault that proved his time had come took place at Headingley, scene of the his greatest triumph, the famous 8 for 43 that beat Australia in the Botham Test three years before.
Willis, a bony 6ft 6ins with sharp knees and elbows and a cascade of curly brownish-auburn hair, was a rarity among international sportsmen: no athlete in the accepted sense, his only aptitude was bowling, and that mainly through aggression and determination. But Frank Tyson was England's only postwar bowler who was clearly faster; and none, not even Fred Trueman, was a more intimidating sight than Willis as he charged dead straight down his 30-yard approach.
On retirement he moved into the media, and for many years formed a strong partnership with Ian Botham for Sky Sports, and although his laconic style did not suit all, a sharp and humourous individual hid just under the surface. He found himself sidelined from front-line commentary duties in 2006, but he remained part of the team.
Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1978
Stats highlights from the fourth day in Ranchi, where Cheteshwar Pujara batted for ages and the Australians toiled like they haven't had to in many years
For the third time this home season, the team took the lead after its opposition put up 400 batting first but the Ranchi effort was special
Did Virat Kohli get his tactics right on the final day in Ranchi? Going by his fast bowlers' lines and R Ashwin's late introduction, the Indian captain took a few puzzling calls
On a pitch most suited for him on this tour, David Warner, the T20-specialist-turned-Test star, got his eye in and then played a wasteful shot. The grown-up knock came from another T20 specialist, instead: Glenn Maxwell
Sudhir Gautam, uber Tendulkar fan, is now rooting for a new sport
Three days ahead of the fourth Test, the surface at the HPCA Stadium wore a smattering of grass. Will that, or Mohammed Shami's availability, subject to fitness, change India's combination?
South Africa are set to play 14 Tests in nine months soon, so both fast bowlers, despite being sent home from New Zealand, should not lose hope
This Bangladesh are crazy if they think they can beat Sri Lanka in their own den. Right?
Under duress again, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim forged a match-winning partnership and contributed in the second innings to help Bangladesh create history