Ray Illingworth dead: Former England cricket captain passes away age 89

Illingworth played 61 Tests for England during a 15-year international career, scoring 1,836 Test runs and claiming 122 wickets, before going on to become chairman of England selectors in the 90s

Ray Illingworth ex-Yorkshire and England cricketer
Ray Illingworth, the ex-Yorkshire and England cricketer, has died aged 89

Former England captain Ray Illingworth has died at the age of 89.

Illingworth, who led England to a Test series victory over Australia Down Under in 1970-71, had been undergoing radiotherapy for esophageal cancer.

His former county, Yorkshire, confirmed the news on Christmas Day, declaring: “We are deeply saddened to learn that Ray Illingworth has passed away.

“Our thoughts are with Ray’s family and the wider Yorkshire family who held Ray so dear to their hearts.”

Illingworth played 61 Tests for England between 1958 and 1973, scoring 1,836 Test runs at an average of 23.24 and claimed 122 wickets at 31.20.

He captained England 31 times, winning 12 of those matches.

Illingworth would also be a key part of a dominant Yorkshire side who would claim seven county Championship titles in nine years, between 1959 and 1968.

Former cricketer Ray Illingworth leaves after a memorial service for Brian Close in Leeds



Illingworth was the chairman of selectors for England between 1993 and 1996, and coached them in 1995-96.

However, his tenure was a debacle, as he clashed on every conceivable level with captain Michael Atherton, declining to award the young Lancastrian the same powers he had claimed when holding the role.

In his three years in post he accrued enough responsibilities to warrant the ‘supremo’ moniker, but as results and relationships teetered off a cliff – most notably an ill-tempered and ill-advised public rebuke of paceman Devon Malcolm in South Africa – there was nobody with whom he could share the blame.

But despite that, he remained much respected throughout the game in his latter years.

Leicester CCC paid tribute on Twitter, declaring: “Everybody at Leicestershire County Cricket Club are deeply, deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Captain, Ray Illingworth.

“Our thoughts are with Illy’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

Illingworth’s wife Shirley died earlier this year after battling cancer and Illingworth had offered his support for law changes over assisted dying.

“I don’t want to have the last 12 months that my wife had,” he said. “She had a terrible time going from hospital to hospital and in pain.

“I believe in assisted dying. The way my wife was, there was no pleasure in life in the last 12 months, and I don’t see the point of living like that, to be honest.

“But we don’t have assisted dying in England yet, so you don’t have the option do you? They are debating it and I think it will come eventually.

“A lot of doctors are against it, but if they had to live like my wife did in her last 12 months they might change their minds.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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