Great sadness at the death of Bob Willis, the most elegant fast bowler that ever drew breath and England’s cricket captain in the bleak mid-1980s. Less well known was his passion for Wagner: he used to play Ride of the Valkyries before he went out to bowl at Australia.
Bob died today of prostate cancer, aged 70.
Here’s a fond reminscence from Christopher Morley:
So many, musicians have been passionate about cricket, and so many cricketers passionate about music: John Barbirolli; Neville Cardus; Michael Kennedy; Julian Lloyd Webber; and, coming the other way, Donald Bradman (an accomplished pianist putting his hands in danger) and Bob Willis, now sadly gone from us.
Willis loved Bob Dylan — and Wagner. I once sat behind him during a Ring cycle from Welsh National Opera at Birmingham Hippodrome, and could just about see through his mane of hair.
Test cricket and the Ring cycle have similar characteristics. They both take the long view and enthral us. Willis was an expert at both of them.
This was his greatest match.