June 08, 1932, Pudsey, Yorkshire
December 25, 2021 (aged 89y 200d)
Right hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
Ray Illingworth's glittering reputation as a cricket strategist was unfortunately compromised by his three-year stint as chairman of selectors, which came when he had nothing to gain in public esteem. In his time as captain, which embraced an Ashes-winning tour, his insistence on fielding only players of his choice was seen as a sign of independence. But when, as chairman, he denied his captains the same right, apparent strength of mind was exposed as pig-headedness. The most damaging example was his refusal to let Mike Atherton have Alec Stewart, rather than Illy's choice Jack Russell, keeping wicket in the 1996 World Cup. Illingworth's greatest gift as captain lay in creating the illusion that he had 14 or 15 players on the field: so expertly did he block a batsman's favourable scoring strokes that when the opposition were in trouble it must frequently have seemed that there were no runs on offer anywhere. In that, Illingworth was much helped by the accuracy of his own offspin - a miserly 1.91 runs per over in his 61 Tests. He was a shade under 6ft tall, and sturdily built. His batting, normally at No. 6 or 7, was built on an orthodox technique and absolute determination not to give away his wicket, which was reflected by a fifth of his innings finishing not out, sometimes to the disadvantage of his teams. Despite that, a droll sense of humour and a fund of reminiscences made him one of the best-liked players of his time.
Batting & Fielding