Ashes hero Dilley dies aged 52
The former England fast bowler, Graham Dilley, has died aged 52 after a short illness.
One of the quickest bowlers of his generation, with a memorable surge to the crease, Dilley took 138 Test wickets at 29.78 for his country but his best-remembered contribution to the England cause came with the bat - he made 56 supporting Ian Botham in a 117-run partnership which helped England to a famous Ashes Test win over Australia at Headingley in 1981.
In a ten-year international career, Dilley played in 41 Tests and 36 ODIs. Remarkably, he finished on the winning side in just two of those Test appearances, but in an era of limited success for the England team, those two victories were among the most loudly acclaimed of the decade - in addition to Headingley, he also played a key role in the first Test of the 1986-87 Ashes triumph, at Brisbane, where his first-innings figures of 5 for 68 condemned Australia to the follow-on.
In the entirety of his first-class career, Dilley claimed 648 wickets at 26.84 for Kent, Worcestershire, England and Natal, although his highlight was arguably the role he played in spearheading Worcestershire's back-to-back County Championship title-winning sides in 1987 and 1988.
"I had a lot of great times with him," Botham told Sky Sports News. "He had a good sense of humour and always wanted to be a part of the party. He was quiet and reserved until you got to know him. It's a very sad day. We both joined Worcestershire at the same time together, almost within minutes. We had a great run of about six trophies in five years."
Dilley's international career was curtailed in 1989 by his decision to join Mike Gatting's rebel tour of South Africa, but by that stage his jolting delivery stride had already taken a heavy toil on his knees. In his later years, he was troubled by osteo-arthritis, and he retired in 1992.
In the immediate aftermath of retirement, Dilley suffered financial problems, but found a new lease of life after moving into coaching. He enjoyed spells as an assistant coach with England and then bowling coach to the England women's team, before taking up a position as head cricket coach at Loughborough University. One of his pupils there was Monty Panesar, "So sad to hear my Uni coach passed away," Panesar tweeted. "Great man and top coach. [He] did a lot for me."
ECB chief executive David Collier said: "Graham made a life-long contribution to the game of cricket at all levels and we are deeply saddened by the sad news this morning. He will be fondly remembered for his contributions both as a player and a coach.
"Graham inspired many young cricketers through the University programme and was a highly respected coach to our representative teams. Few will forget his contribution during the historic Ashes win at Headingley in 1981 and the part he played in two Ashes series victories. Graham will be sadly missed by all his friends throughout cricket and ECB sends our deepest condolences to Graham's family. '
Hugh Morris, the managing director of the England team said: "This is very sad news for Graham's many friends and colleagues in cricket both in this country and overseas. As well as being a bowler of the highest class, Graham made an immense contribution to our game as a coach and his ability to impart his knowledge and wisdom to future generations of young cricketers will be sorely missed. "