Ray Illingworth bigraphy, stories - Cricketer

Ray Illingworth : biography

8 June 1932 -

Raymond ("Ray") Illingworth, CBE (born 8 June 1932 in Pudsey, Yorkshire) is a former English cricketer, cricket commentator and cricket administrator. He was one of only nine players to have taken 2,000 wickets and made 20,000 runs in First class cricket, and the last one to do so.p302, Peter Arnold, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Cricket, W.H. Smith, 1986 He played for Yorkshire (1951–68 and 1982–83), Leicestershire (1969–78) and England (1958–73) and was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1960.

As Captain

The Yorkshireman was 'tough, combative, grudging, shrewd, and an instinctive reader of the game',p194-195, E.W. Swanton, The Barclay's World of Cricket, Collins 1986 and an experienced, no-nonsense captain who expected his team to play like professionals. David Gower wrote 'no matter how highly Ray might regard you as a player he would not have you in his team, come hell or high water, unless he was utterly convinced that you could do the job he had allocated to you'.p56-59, David Gower, Heroes and Contemporaries, Granada Publishing Ltd, 1985 He encouraged 'difficult' players like Geoff Boycott and John Snow who responded with their best Test form. 'Most of all, because he insisted on his "own side", he was able to get the best out of his players, both mentally and physically. He built up a tremendous team spirit which stood us in good stead on numerous occasions',p80, John Snow, Cricket Rebel, Hamlyn, 1976 and they tended to close ranks and treat the opposition, umpires, press and public as the enemy, an attitude that became prevalent amongst Test teams in the 1970s.p150-152, Ashley Brown, The Pictorial History of Cricket, Bison Books Ltd, 1988 In all he captained England in 31 Test matches, winning 12, losing 5 and drawing 14.

Illingworth only captained England for five seasons (1969–1973) but this was a successful period in English Cricket. Under Illingworth, England beat the West Indies 2-0 in 1969, held a powerful Rest of the World side to 3-1 in 1970, won the Ashes in Australia in 1970-71, beat Pakistan in 1971, somewhat surprisingly lost to India in 1971 but then regrouped and held on to the Ashes in a tight series in 1972 before eventually losing to a strong West Indies team in 1973.

Illingworth can perhaps be considered responsible for the victories in several of those tighter contests. For example at Headingley in 1969 the West Indies were 219 - 3 chasing 280 when Illingworth's inspired bowling change had Basil Butcher caught behind and wickets fell with just about every bowling change he made that afternoon. Similarly at Sydney in the 7th Test of the 1970-71 series it was Illingworth, deprived of his star batsman Geoff Boycott and his star bowler John Snow, who somehow pressurised the Australian batsmen into capitulation.

Those two matches will probably be remembered as Illingworth's finest moments as captain because they were the most famous. However it was for his brilliant tactics at Headingley in 1971 that he should receive most plaudits. With Pakistan needing only 231 to win - they were sailing toward victory with Sadiq Mohammad and Asif Iqbal in full command at 160-4. Alan Knott pulled off a miraculous stumping off Norman Gifford (Asif the batsman) and again Illingworth's bowling changes just as they had two years earlier resulted in wickets - including the key wicket of Sadiq - c&b by Basil D'Oliveira.

The 1972 series was as good and tough an Ashes series as there has been (with the possible exception of 2005). The seasoned pros of England in Boycott, Edrich, D'Oliveira, Illingworth himself, Underwood and Snow faced the upcoming young Australians (Ian and Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee, Rod Marsh, Doug Walters) who would dominate for the middle part of the decade. The series was drawn 2-2 but included tight games at Headingley and particularly the Oval, where the match lasted almost six days with Australia chasing 242 with only 4 wickets in hand.

1973 was the end for Illingworth as captain of England and it was rather a sad one in that an easy victory over a budding New Zealand team was followed by a heavy defeat by a West Indies side just beginning to peak. England needed to win at Lord's to level the three-Test series. West Indies had first use of a quick but perfectly even batting wicket and made 650 at a rapid scoring rate as England's bowling attack of Willis, Arnold, Greig, Underwood and Illingworth was humiliated by Kanhai, Sobers and Bernard Julien. When England batted they had no answer to Lance Gibbs and lost by an innings after following on. Wisden fairly described it as "a sad end to the Illingworth era".

Living octopus

Living octopus

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