Trio of captains lead Dilley tributes
Former England captains Sir Ian Botham, Mike Gatting and Andrew Flintoff led the tributes to paceman Graham Dilley at a thanksgiving service in Worcester Cathedral today after his death last month.
Dozens of the sport’s big names past and present packed the building which overlooks Worcestershire’s New Road ground where Dilley played for the final six years of his career.
He appeared in 41 Tests and is remembered for his match-changing century partnership with Botham during the 1981 Ashes Test at Headingley as well as helping win the 1986-87 series under Gatting.
Gatting said: “Everyone will remember him for 1981 but there are many more memories than that.
“There was his magnificent spell of bowling against the West Indies at Lord’s and his contribution to the 1986-87 Ashes series win Down Under.
“He was a fine, fine bowler but I suppose we will always remember Dill for not wanting the limelight, being happy to sit somewhere and have a beer with the boys.
“He was never one to want the spotlight and would try and stay away from it. But he was a lovely man and probably too nice to be a fast bowler.”
Botham, who played alongside Dilley for England and Worcestershire, said: “Everyone talks about 1981 when he played like Graeme Pollock at the other end to me.
“But I’ve got so many great memories, trying to talk him through his first tour when I was England captain, when he turned up with just one pair of boots! The heel came off with the second delivery he bowled and he wore my boots for the rest of that tour.
“He had a long time at Kent and I had a long time at Somerset and we both came to Worcestershire and had six or seven marvellous years together here.
“He had a dry sense of humour and the more you got to know him, the more forthright he was. He had some strong opinions on the game.
“He coached with England and then at Loughborough. He passed on a lot - and he had a lot to pass on.”
Flintoff is indebted to Dilley for his help when part of the England coaching team.
He said: “I’ve seen the re-runs of 1981 and he played as big a part in that as ‘Beefy’ (Botham) and Bob Willis.
“But regarding me, in 2002-03 my career turned around and I started bowling properly and that was down to working with Dilley in India and New Zealand and then a tricky time in Australia.
“But I also chatted with him when I saw him at Loughborough and we talked things through. He was an inspiration and helped me out no end.”
Addresses were made during the service by former England batsman Chris Tavare, who also played alongside Dilley at his first county, Kent, and the England and Wales Cricket Board head of elite coaching development Gordon Lord.
Among those who honoured Dilley were England selectors Geoff Miller and Ashley Giles, England’s managing director of cricket Hugh Morris, Lancashire director of cricket Peter Moores and his Middlesex counterpart Angus Fraser.
A host of Worcestershire players from the Dilley era also paid their respects, including Graeme Hick, Phil Newport and Tim Curtis who all also played for England, as well as the current squad.