Bob Willis

Bob Willis

Bob Willis

INTL CAREER: 1971 - 1984

Full Name

Robert George Dylan Willis


May 30, 1949, Sunderland, Co Durham


December 04, 2019 (aged 70y 188d)

Also Known As

birth registered as Robert George Willis


Goose, Dylan, Harold, Swordfish

Batting Style

Right hand bat

Bowling Style

Right arm fast


6ft 6in


Royal Grammar School, Guildford




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, arms flapping, 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 humorous individual hid just under the surface. He found himself sidelined from front-line commentary duties in 2006, but forged an even more successful role as an acerbic pundit on the channel's post-match "Verdict" show, where he was able to playup to his doom-mongering persona. He died in December 2019, after a short illness, aged 70.
Cricinfo staff

Career Averages

Batting & Fielding
List A2931134861552*9.4601840
List A2931498384974217/327/3220.183.4035.51440
Robert George Dylan Willis
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Debut/Last Matches - Player


Alastair Cook, Graeme Swann, Robert Hutton (for Len Hutton), James Anderson, Joe Root, Bob Willis and David Gower felicitated as part of ECB's all-time XI
Bob Willis chats to his colleague David Gower
Tom Curran was handed his Test cap by Bob Willis
Sky commentators Bob Willis, Mike Atherton, David Gower and Ian Botham have a chat
Bob Willis attends Tony Greig's memorial service in London
James Anderson is interviewed with fellow 300-club members Ian Botham and Bob Willis