Graham Dilley 1959-2011 October 5, 2011

Dilley 'always had a smile' - Gatting


Mike Gatting, the former England captain, has remembered Graham Dilley, who died on Wednesday at the age of 52, as a cricketer who "always had a smile" when he played the game.

Gatting played alongside Dilley in the famous 1981 Ashes Test at Headingley where Dilley played a key role with his second-innings 56 in the crucial stand with Ian Botham. Five years later Gatting was the captain of the 1986-87 side that retained the Ashes in Australia where Dilley was again part of the squad and played four Tests including the victory at Brisbane, taking 5 for 68.

"He was a quiet guy with a very dry sense of humour," Gatting told ESPNcricinfo. "He'd have a pint and a fag at the end of the day but he loved playing cricket. He was very happy sitting down and chatting to people about the game while having a beer and he loved passing on information to the kids. He always had a smile and a chuckle. He had his moments when he got a bit cross, but that was more within himself than anyone else."

Dilley's role in 1981 is not remembered in the same light as Botham or Bob Willis, but England's stunning victory after following-on wouldn't have happened without his free-spirited innings after he'd been told by Botham "to have some fun" with the match seemingly lost

"Had he not got his 50-odd with Beefy we wouldn't have got anywhere near enough runs or even gone past Australia to win the match," Gatting said. "He also took a very good catch in that match from a top edge at fine leg [to remove Rod Marsh].

"He was a wonderful bowler throughout his career," Gatting added. "In Australia in 1986-87 he was a huge cog in the wheel of winning that series and there were many other times when he was our strike bowler. He ran in very quickly and swung it out. He was a fine, fine bowler."

Gatting also remembered fondly the head-to-head battles the two players experienced at county level in an era where England's players were available for far more domestic cricket. "We always had a bit of fun," he said. "There were a few times where he got me early and it was a good competition. He was one of those bowlers that you had to see off because he was capable of picking up four or five wickets quickly."

Following his playing career, Dilley moved into coaching and spent time with the full England set-up and also at Loughborough university where he worked alongside Monty Panesar among other players.

"We are devastated to hear the news that Graham has passed away," Chris Earle, the Loughborough director of sport, said. "He has made his mark on the world of cricket, not just through his success as a player, but also for his contribution as our cricket coach over the last 11 years. Graham will be sadly missed, but his legacy at Loughborough will remain thanks to the excellent cricket environment that he played a significant role in creating."

John Stephenson, the MCC's head of cricket, said: "He was a world-class bowler who I played against many times and he became a very good friend. As a coach, he made a huge impact as part of the MCC Universities programme; he was central to the progress made at Loughborough over the last decade and he will be much missed by all of us at the club."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sushil on October 6, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    Dilley belonged to the era of classy cricketers and personalities unlike now when they try to make themselves look interesting and put on an attitude. Now its just hype nothing more. So many interesting cricketers from those days..Botham, Gower, Richards, Imran, Miandad, Lillee, Marshall, Ambrose, Patrick Patterson, Greg Chappell, Wasim/Waqar, Steve Waugh, Azhar...Now how many are interesting to watch ...cant even pick one. Graham Dilley was beautiful to watch with his run up..looked like a perfect athlete tall and well built.. and that blond white hair making him almost look like a ghost with his pale skin but he bowled fast and his name always stood out...not a name you would forget easily. Back when he was bowling well he was easily the best bowler England had after Bob Willis retired. He could swing the bowler at pace which troubled Gavakar and Srikkanth and co.

  • Naveed on October 6, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Just wanted to echo the sentiments of many "posts," really sad to hear of his death, always had a smile for everyone, and gentlemenly. Just the other day one of my friends was looking forward to his time at Loughborough with Graham. We were saying "you could not ask for a better coach, been there, and done it." RIP.

  • Tony on October 6, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    Sad - always a gent on the field.

    I think he should also be remembered for his contribution to that piece of classic cricket trivia - Lillee, caught Willey bowled Dilley.

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    His long curvy run up to wickets and beautiful smile is all we will remember. So sad to hear him gone in such young age cant't believe

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2011, 1:29 GMT

    In as much as it is devastating, nobody has a clue as to why he had to die so early. Was he suffering from a terminal disease? No detailed coverage of the same. I was 10 years old staying in Ahmedabad and I recollect waking up early morning to listen the commentary on his debut test in Australia in 1979-80 (the era of aluminium bats). I recollect his batting really frustrated the Aussies, although the won the series 3-0. While he did not make much of a mark in 81-82 in India, in the 86 home series, he stood out from the rest of the bowlers in the English team. Again, he was on the loosing side.

    RIP Dilley.

  • Andrew on October 5, 2011, 22:34 GMT

    Sad to hear, didn't know he was even sick. My memories of him (not fond ones), was the torturous 86/87 Ashes in Oz, always looked likely to take a wicket or five! I was sick of the sight of him! Dropped off pretty quickly afterwards, form-wise. Way to young to go, we're all poorer for his passing!

  • David on October 5, 2011, 22:19 GMT

    I was really sad to hear of Graham's passing on. Another of that era now gone to the great cricket pitches in the sky...I remember watching his support to Beefy in that famous 500 - 1 win at Headingley in '81. Vital in winning back the Ashes!! Followed that up with the Old Trafford win...I suppose his legacy now lies with Mitchell Johnson of Australia, who has a similar action as Graham's. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time...52 is no age to go...RIP Graham Dilley.

  • Dummy4 on October 5, 2011, 21:27 GMT

    i once played at the same ground a week after him. that curving run up etched into the turf was amazing to see. a sad loss.

  • Richard on October 5, 2011, 20:25 GMT

    We are only here for a finite length of time but we would all hope to have longer than 52 years. My mate and I were having a pint in The Bat and Ball Canterbury after a Kent v Somerset B&H game in May 1980, which our team Somerset had won comfortably. Graham Dilley walked in wearing his England blazer and tie looking, quite frankly, like a star. He was happy to chat with us and congratulate us on our teams success, very generous with his time. Lovely bloke, a fine bowler and, I suspect one of the very quickest England pacemen of his generation.

  • John on October 5, 2011, 20:04 GMT

    I remember his partnership with Botham very well. He took took lead early on, not with slogs, but with wonderful off-drives that changed the tempo of the match and gave Botham the context for his great innings. He never reproduced that batting form again but had an outstanding career as an international fast bowler. He also made a great contribution to the best days of the County I follow, Worcestershire. A fine cricketer and a fine man. RIP.

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