The announcement of his death was made by his family in a statement, saying, “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.”
Nicknamed “Goose” for his unconventionally loose-limbed approach to the crease will be forever synonymous with England’s 1981 Ashes victory, as he took eight for 43 in the Australian second innings of the third Ashes Test.
In his 90 matches Test career, Willis claimed 325 wickets.
His test career kicked off on the Ashes tour in 1970-71, when he was called up as a 21-year-old as a late replacement for the injured Alan Ward and played a full role in a famous 2-0 series win.
Willis had led England on 18 occasions in Test cricket, including the 1982-83 Ashes tour, where England was defeated 2-1 though not before pulling off a remarkable three-run win in the fourth Test at Melbourne.
He also captained England at the 1983 World Cup, where England was defeated by India.
After the retirement from Willis forged a career in the media. He was an acerbic and popular pundit on Sky Sports’ post-match show, named The Verdict.
On the passing away of a cricket legend, tributes have started to pour in on social media:
Such a sad time for cricket fans all around the world. Rest In Peace Bob.
— Sir Vivian Richards (@ivivianrichards) December 4, 2019
Bob Willis was my first England captain and a legend of England cricket. Headingley 1980 was as much his triumph as Beefy Botham's – RIP Big Bob…
— Derek Pringle (@derekpringle) December 4, 2019
Very sad news to hear the passing of Bob Willis.. One of England’s greatest ever.. Huge heart that was fierce in all battles let alone the Ashes… Only met him a few times but was always a gentlemen and just loved the game of cricket.. #BobWillis #RipBobWillis #England #Great https://t.co/i37YtAmXNe
— Damien Martyn🏏 (@damienmartyn) December 4, 2019
Farewell to one of the best people it’s been my privilege to know, #BobWillis. He was an idol of mine growing up – show me a child of the late 70s who didn’t impersonate his bowling run-up & I’ll show you a liar – then became the most fantastic friend for the past 25 years…
— Brian Murgatroyd (@murgersb) December 4, 2019
Bob Wills died today in England 325 test wickets 899 first class wicket , we played against each other many times "May he rest in peace" his unique bowling style with his height will always be remembered RIP @geonews_english @TheRealPCB pic.twitter.com/gLVtvlCMFz
— Sikander Bakht (@Sikanderbakhts) December 4, 2019