Bob Willis died today, which is rubbish.
Willis was a top drawer fast bowler and responsible for one of the finest displays in Test history. Near enough 40 years later, that spell is still looked upon as a Big Thing. We presume it always be.
Later, he became an adequate commentator. We have no strong feelings either way about this aspect of his work.
In the last few years, Willis had become the central pillar of The Verdict on Sky Sports. In that role, he is simply irreplaceable.
We don’t know whose idea it was to bung him in a studio and give him free rein to slag England off whenever they had a bad day, but whoever it was, they’re a genius. As was Bob.
As a rule of thumb, if it was a good day for England, you watched the highlights, and if it was a terrible day for England, you skipped the highlights and watched Bob tear them 10,000 new arseholes on The Verdict. It was essential viewing.
He did it partly in a knowing way, but also in a heartfelt way that can’t really be faked. That was the tightrope-walking brilliance of the man. We’ll confess there were days when we actively willed England to perform worse, purely so we could see what he delivered on The Verdict.
We’ll miss him enormously.