Sir Ian Botham pays tribute to England legend Bob Willis

Sir Ian Botham has paid tribute to Bob Willis and says his former England team-mate was ‘like a brother’ and one of the greatest bowlers he played with during his career.

Former England captain Willis, who played 90 Tests and 64 one-day internationals, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 70.

When Willis retired in 1984, he held the record for the most Test wickets and his tally of 325 has only been passed by three England players since.

Botham is one of the men to have surpassed Willis and says his former team-mate was an ‘amazing guy’ and a ‘great cricketer’.

‘If I had problems in the cricketing world or in my personal life, he’d always be there to help me. He was like a big brother,’ Botham told Sky News.

‘We had some amazing times together around the world. There are certain friendships you have in your life but very few as close as it was with Bob.

‘An amazing guy, great cricketer, very underestimated by a lot of people for many years. And when you look at his record you realise, ‘hang on a minute, this guy was good’.

‘He was the best quick bowler I played with representing England because he was quick. A lot of other bowlers bowl high 80’s, early 90’s, but he kept it up there in the mid-90s.

‘He was a unique bowler because you’d never teach anyone to run up and bowl like that!’

Botham and Willis combined to help England beat Australia in a memorable Test match at Headingley during the 1981 Ashes, with Willis claiming stunning figures of 8-43.

‘I said at Headingley on the balcony, there should be two man of the matches here,’ Botham added.

‘Because Bob Willis, without his 8-43 in that long spell, we probably never would have won the game.

‘Getting the runs on the board is one thing but you’ve got to take the wickets. We only had 130 runs to play with and he came in and you couldn’t speak to him, he was like a man obsessed.

‘He ran down, bowled, got a wicket, he’d give it that one, then he’d turn around and he was halfway back to his mark for the next batsman.’

England legends David Gower, Nasser Hussain and Graham Gooch have also paid tribute to Willis since his passing last week.

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