Bob Willis, former England cricket captain and pundit, dies at 70

Clockwise from left: Bob Willis in action in June 1983, pictured in 2012 and celebrating his leading wicket haul from the 1977 Ashes at The Oval.
Clockwise from left: Bob Willis in action in June 1983, pictured in 2012 and celebrating his leading wicket haul from the 1977 Ashes at The Oval.
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Bob Willis, the former England captain and cricket pundit, has died at the age of 70 after a long illness.

The fast bowler played 90 Tests for England and has been a popular figure in broadcasting since his retirement in 1984.

Willis' family said in a statement: "We are heartbroken to lose our beloved Bob, who was an incredible husband, father, brother and grandfather. He made a huge impact on everybody he knew and we will miss him terribly.

"Bob is survived by his wife Lauren, daughter Katie, brother David and sister Ann.

"The Willis family has asked for privacy at this time to mourn the passing of a wonderful man and requests that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to Prostate Cancer UK."

Willis' most famous moment as a player came in the 1981 Ashes series as his eight for 43 fired England to a remarkable win in the third Test at Headingley.

He is England's fourth highest wicket-taker of all time with 325 wickets.

Willis' former county Surrey paid tribute on Twitter, saying: "All at Surrey County Cricket Club are devastated to learn of the passing of former Surrey and England bowler Bob Willis.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time."

'Cricket has lost a dear friend'

Former England fast bowler Darren Gough said Willis was "hugely admired".

"As a player he had a big heart, he'd run in, nearly 6ft 6ins, and hit the pitch hard. At his peak was one of the best three bowlers in the world," Gough said on Talksport.

"He was hugely admired all around the world. Everybody knew who he was.

"If you just saw him on TV people might think he's a bit straight, but in his company over a glass of wine he would make you laugh all night."

The England and Wales Cricket Board said that "cricket had lost a dear friend".

"The ECB is deeply saddened to say farewell to Bob Willis, a legend of English cricket, at the age of 70," a statement read.

"Bob spearheaded the England bowling attack for more than a decade and took 325 Test wickets.

"He will always be remembered for his outstanding cricket career, in particular his eight for 43 in the dramatic Headingley Test victory over Australia in 1981.

"In later years as a broadcaster Bob was a perceptive and respected voice at the microphone. We are forever thankful for everything he has done for the game.

"Everyone at the ECB sends sincere condolences to his family. Cricket has lost a dear friend."