Graham Dilley 1959-2011 October 5, 2011

Ashes hero Dilley dies aged 52

ESPNcricinfo staff

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. "

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  • Kuldeep on October 7, 2011, 11:52 GMT

    I have great memories of Dilley, that beautiful angled approach, then the leap and side on posiiton, the classical out swing bowler. Great loss to cricket, RIP. You are gone but memories will last life time!

  • Prabhu on October 6, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    Sunil Kumar Singh: That's a nice recollection :) I remember that too: it was the May 24 1986 ODI against England. We were chasing 162 when Dilley got Srikkanth first ball. However Azhar and Gavaskar too India to victory without further loss.

  • Narayanan on October 6, 2011, 16:23 GMT

    No body can and will never forget his delivery stride and also his valuable contributions to England Cricket. RIP

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2011, 15:41 GMT

    All those of us, of Graham Dilley's generation - whether we played professional or purely village cricket, will savour the memory of meeting, or playing against him. He was a good man, a gentleman as well as a player.

    Requiescat in pace - and the warmest commiserations to all his nearest and dearest.

  • Rolf on October 6, 2011, 15:17 GMT

    This is sorry news. Wonderful cricketer. One of the really distinctive actions of his era.

  • Syed on October 6, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    His deliveries in 1987 (America's cup?) Perth final against Pakistan made a lasting impression on me... his outswingers/cutters were fast and almost making 45 deg angle after pitching. sure enough very quickly he dismantled pakistan's top order. Whenever I heard his name those deliveries and his clean bowling then in-form Shoaib Mohammad come to my mind.

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    I only remember him in one of the dayers in 1987 India played against England where he got Srikkanth caught behind the very first ball of the innings and India won the match by nine wickets ... RIP

  • Alan on October 6, 2011, 11:41 GMT

    @ Abdul Rehman, I also remember the two 1987 series against Pakistan, especially the Oval test where Javed Miandad made nearly 300 and Pakistan racked up an enormous score of more than 700, a rarity in the 1980s (big scores are more common these days). It could have been even worse for England but Dilley came back and showed good determination in the end to get Miandad caught and bowled and five other wickets. You are right that Dilley certainly deserved to play more tests but unfortunately was plagued by bad luck with injuries.

  • Alan on October 6, 2011, 11:31 GMT

    Very sad news. It is indeed curious that Dilley only played in two test victories for England, a record that does no justice to his quality, and is partly explained by the poor England sides of that era and by the large number of draws he played in. Although troubled by injury, Dilley would have got into many subsequent better England sides. Perhaps a Dilley performance not mentioned above which sticks in my mind came in the 1988 Lords' test against West Indies: England hadn't beaten the mighty West Indies in a test for 14 years, and Dilley took nine wickets in the match (his best figures in a test match), and might have won England a shock victory but for the genius of Malcolm Marshall. (Sad to think that Dilley and Marshall have both now passed away.) On a smaller point, there is a slight error in the above article when it mentions Worcestershire's back-to-back county championship victories in which Dilley played occurring in 1987 and 1988: these were actually in 1988 and 1989.

  • kris on October 6, 2011, 11:27 GMT

    Every death lessens me. More so a premature death of a Cricketer. Two tears!

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