Ray Illingworth reveals cancer diagnosis amid support for assisted dying

Former England captain wants law changed to prevent the suffering of terminally ill patients

Ray Illingworth was England's supremo in the mid-1990s, Headingley, June 7, 1995

Ray Illingworth was England's supremo in the mid-1990s  •  Getty Images

Ray Illingworth, the former England captain, has revealed he is being treated for oesophageal cancer, and has called for assisted dying to be legalised in the UK after witnessing the way his wife Shirley suffered from the same disease.
Illingworth, who captained England to victory in Australia in 1970-71 and went on to become English cricket's most powerful figure in the mid-1990s, says that he has undergone two rounds of radiotherapy and hopes to hear a positive prognosis when his condition is reassessed next month.
"They got rid of a lot of the tumour but there were still two centimetres left, originally it was eight," he told The Daily Telegraph. "They are just hoping to get rid of the last bit with extra double doses. I will see how these next two doses go, keep my fingers crossed and hope I have a bit of luck."
However, having cared for his wife for the final years of her life, prior to her death in March, Illingworth has lent his support to the Assisted Dying Bill, which received its second reading in the House of Lords in October, and would enable mentally competent adults to make the decision to end their own lives.
At present, the 1961 Suicide Act states that anyone who is found to have assisted a person to take their own life could face up to 14 years' imprisonment. However, earlier this month, Jersey became the first British parliament to approve assisted dying, with the prospect for a draft law by 2023.
"I don't want to have the last 12 months that my wife had. She had a terrible time going from hospital to hospital and in pain. I don't want that," Illingworth said. "I would rather go peacefully. I believe in assisted dying. The way my wife was, there was no pleasure in life in the last 12 months and I don't see the point of living like that, to be honest.
"But we don't have assisted dying in England yet so you don't have the option do you? They are debating it and I think it will come eventually. A lot of doctors are against it but if they had to live like my wife did in her last 12 months they might change their minds."