Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Headingley Ashes hero Graham Dilley dies at 52
Graham Dilley, who has died of cancer aged 52, was a tall, blond fast bowler who captured 138 Test wickets in 41 appearances for England - but one of his greatest moments came as a batsman in the astonishing Ashes encounter at Headingley in 1981.
With England already 1-0 down in the series when the Third Test came to Leeds they looked certain of heavy defeat as they slumped to 135-7 in their second innings after following on 227 runs in arrears.
Dilley then initiated one of the greatest recoveries in Test history by dominating the early part of a 117 stand with Ian Botham - who went on to a sensational 149 not out, allowing England to go on to win the match by 18 runs as Bob Willis decimated Australia’s second innings with a magnificent 8-43.
Dilley was finally out for 56, but his departure brought in Yorkshire’s Chris Old, who scored 29 and helped Botham to put on a further 67 for the ninth wicket - Willis then assisting Botham to add a priceless 37 and take England to 356.
Dilley still had an important role to play - he held a splendid catch at third-man to get rid of wicket-keeper/batsman Rodney Marsh as Australia were mown down for 111. This stunning victory was the turning point in the series, Botham’s heroics ensuring that the next two Tests were also won and the Ashes retained.
Born in Dartford, Kent, Dilley played for his native county from 1977 to 1986 before moving to Worcestershire from 1987 to 1992. In all he claimed 648 First Class wickets at 26.84 runs apiece, but he was rarely seen at his best against Yorkshire, managing only a dozen wickets with never more than two in an innings.
He went through a bad patch after retiring but he bounced back when he moved into coaching. He enjoyed his time as England’s bowling coach and later as coach with the England women’s cricket team before becoming head cricket coach at Loughborough University - where he assisted in the development of Monty Panesar.