Thursday, 4 November 2010

2 Willises for the price of one

Fantasy Bob had given up on England on that Saturday in 1981.  They were following on, wickets had fallen and things looked like they were heading for certain defeat.  So he went out for a walk.  Somewhere later that afternoon, he can't quite remember where, he recalls passing a TV shop and noticing that Botham was still in.  It didn't quite sink in until he got home.  Botham, freed of the captaincy, had given it a go and he'd come off big time.

Not Fantasy Bob

But even when the innings was over and England had a slender lead of 129 they were still second favourites.  It is hard to recall, with all the accolades for Beefy, how there was still work to be done and that it took another great to do it.  Step forward RGD Willis, for his career best performance - 8 for 43.  Should he have been man of the match?  He had to bowl to win the game - Botham had no real pressure on him.

Willis had an ungainly action and an eccentric run up - much mimicked by fellow players - Graham Gooch in particular.  But he delivered pace and bounce.  Stats don't lie - 90 Tests, 325 wickets at 25.20.  Top drawer.

Fantasy Bob wants also to praise another Willis - Denny Willis a Scottish comedian with a long connection into the lost worlds of variety and music hall.  FB used to see him (and he thinks his father Dave Willis) in various touring shows that came to Aberdeen.  Perfectly timed, physical, slapstick comedy.  Try this classic routine The Fox has left his Lair.

Willis -  Ashes hero.

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