Willis book will bowl you over
FOR all the backslapping and high-fiving at Sky Sports Cricket for a job well done this summer, something has been missing.
The excellent output of live coverage, thoughtprovoking features and insightful analysis needs its contrast, something that Bob Willis on The Verdict used to provide in spades.
His sharp wit and even sharper tongue would have peeled back a few of the chummier layers to give viewers a robust, no-nonsense take on a day’s play without apology.
Sadly, Willis is no longer with us. Robbed of a good few years by prostate cancer at the age of 70 last December, the game is poorer for his passing.
Willis was far more than the character he developed for the post-match show he and Charles Colville hosted.
He was an outstanding commentator with a distinctive voice and a knack for saying the right things at the right times to elevate the action.
And, before that, he was an integral part of the action, too. A great fast bowler who captained his country in 18 Tests, taking 325 wickets, including his greatest performance of 8-43 in the 1981 Ashes.
Away from the game that he loved there was a hinterland that made him far more interesting than your average sportsman with a deep knowledge and love of music (Bob Dylan and Wagner), wine (South Australian varieties, in particular) and current affairs (passed on by his news editor father Ted).
It is this side of him that comes to the fore in the book Bob Willis: A Cricketer and a Gentleman, edited by his brother David and with contributions from a wide range of engaging writers.
Bob Willis: A Cricketer and a Gentleman is out now, published by Hodder and Stoughton, all proceeds go to Prostate Cancer UK