Yorkshire has announced that former England captain Ray Illingworth has died at the age of 89.
Illingworth, who led England to a Test series win over Australia Down Under in 1970–71, was undergoing radiotherapy for esophageal cancer.
Illingworth played 61 Tests for England between 1958 and 1973, scoring 1,836 Test runs at an average of 23.24 and taking 122 wickets at 31.20.
He captained England 31 times, winning 12 of them.
The high point of his England career was Bill Lawrie’s Ashes success against Australia in 1970/71,
Born on June 8, 1932, in Pudsey, one of Yorkshire’s cricket hotbeds, Illingworth was seven years old when World War Two took hold.
His father worked as a joiner and cabinet-maker, only stopping to help out at a war materials factory during the conflict, and despite learning the family trade, Illingworth soon found his qualifications.
At the age of 13 on the school team, soon rising through the ranks at Farsley and selected by the Yorkshire Colts shortly after his 17th birthday, his path was clear.
A period of national service with the RAF proved to be little more than a minor affair and his fondest memory of the time came from representing the combined services on the field of play.
After starting his professional career in a Yorkshire dressing room dominated by large characters, Illingworth’s stature developed into the dominant White Rose side, winning seven county championships in the nine years between 1959 and 1968.
England also came to call 30 times in a decade, but it was only after moving to Leicestershire in 1969 that he really found his calling.
Immediately established as captain at Grace Road, Colin Cowdrey was called upon to lead his country when he was injured.
Initially a stand-in, he held the position for more than four years, winning 12 and losing just five of his 31 Tests.
Illingworth made a remarkable return to the colors of Yorkshire at the age of 50.
Originally appointed team manager, he brought himself back to the playing roster and John Player ended up with the league winners’ medal.
It would have proved a fitting conclusion if he had not been brought back into the limelight in 1994 as the new chairman of the England selectors.
His time as a selector was marred by a conflict with captain Michael Atherton.
In his home life he was a kind husband to both childhood sweetheart Shirley, father to Diane and Vicky, and later to both grandfather and great-grandfather.
More to follow…
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