FORMER Ashes hero Graham Dilley has died aged 52 after a short illness, the England and Wales Cricket Board has revealed.
Fast bowler Dilley played a key role in one of the most dramatic Tests in Ashes history as his 117-run eighth wicket partnership with Ian Botham helped England recover from a seemingly hopeless position to beat Australia by 18 runs at Headingley in 1981.
Kent and Worcestershire star Dilley played in 41 Tests, took 138 wickets and won the Ashes twice with England in 1981 and 1986-87.
After retiring, he moved into coaching and enjoyed spells as an assistant with England and bowling coach to the England Women’s team before taking up a position as head cricket coach at Loughborough University.
Botham said he was reeling at the news.
“We only heard a few days ago how ill Graham was,” he told Sky Sports News.
“They were saying it was very serious and they were talking maybe two weeks and he’s gone in less than two days.
“We’re all shocked that this can happen to someone who’s 52. Very shocked. It’s a very sad day.”
ECB chief executive David Collier said: “Graham made a life-long contribution to the game of cricket at all levels and we are deeply saddened by the sad news this morning.
He will be fondly remembered for his contributions both as a player and a coach.
“Graham inspired many young cricketers through the University programme and was a highly respected coach to our representative teams.
“Few will forget his contribution during the historic Ashes win at Headingley in 1981 and the part he played in two Ashes series victories.
“Graham will be sadly missed by all his friends throughout cricket and ECB sends our deepest condolences to Graham’s family.”