You know that you are getting old when your childhood heroes start to die and that’s exactly how we felt at The Reverse Sweep yesterday when we heard the deeply sad news that former England, Kent and Worcestershire great Graham Dilley had passed away at the age of just 52.
Dilley starred in perhaps the most famous Test match of them all at Headingley in 1981 when his 117 run partnership with Ian Botham started the most improbable of comebacks. We will remember that innings – where Dilley was as much the aggressor as Botham - with fondness until we are grey and old.
If that wasn’t enough then Dilley also caught a difficult skier off Bob Willis the next day to dismiss Rodney Marsh and help confirm Australia’s humiliation.
However, it was Dilley’s classical elegant bowling action that we remember most from our childhood – in many senses his elegant run-up and leap was the bowling equivalent of David Gower’s batting.
But for injury, Dilley could well have staked a claim to be one of England’s best fast bowlers since the War, but in the end had to be content with 138 Test wickets from his 41 Tests at an average of 29.78 – still a decent enough return.
His bad luck with injuries extended to his win bonuses for England, which he only enjoyed twice in his 41 Tests (making his overall figures even more impressive) – the aforementioned Headingley Test of 1981 and Brisbane 1986, where his first-innings five for 68 went a long way to propelling Australia to defeat.
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