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
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