Almanac Cricket: Vale Ray Illingworth


Ray Illingworth


England’s cricketers wore black armbands today as they took the field for the first day of the Third Test in Melbourne as a mark of respect for former England captain Ray Illingworth who has passed away at the age of 89.


Best known in Australia as captain of England in the 1970/71 Ashes series, Illingworth was Yorkshire to the core – canny, tough, uncompromising, the personification of grit and determination, and a leader. His first class career spanned an incredible 32 years before he went on to offer his services as a coach, commentator and administrator.


Illingworth’s Test career statistics may appear modest at first glance but it was his passion, insightful cricketing brain, doggedness, and lead-from-the-front captaincy that set him apart as a legend of the game. He was a nagging, terrier of an off-spinner (122 wickets @ 31) and a more than capable lower order batsman (1836 runs @ 23, two centuries) who played 61 Tests, 31 of them as Captain.


To see Illingworth’s  career statistics click here.


Illingworth considered his greatest moment to be the successful 1970/71 series in Australia which saw a 7-Test series which England won 2-0. At the end of a niggling series, Illingworth famously led his team from the field in the final Test in Sydney after fast bowler John Snow was manhandled by a member of the crowd. It was only when the umpires threatened that England would forfeit the match if they did not return to the field that Illingworth relented, returned to the field and went on to win the match after trailing by a decent margin on the first innings.


Those of us old enough to recall that summer have memories of Illingworth frequently arguing with the umpires (especially Lou Rowan), the debut of one DK Lillee, the demise of Bill Lawry, the beginning of the Chappelli years, the fearsome John Snow and, of course, the Sydney incident referred to above. It was difficult to like Illingworth but, in all honesty, wasn’t he the leader you’d want in a scrap on foreign soil for the holy grail of cricketing trophies, The Ashes?


To see the scorecard of the 7th Test in Sydney in 1971 click here.


To read The Guardian’s tribute to Illingworth click here.


Ray Illingworth died from oesophageal cancer on Christmas Day.


RIP Ray Illingworth.


To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?

And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help things keep ticking over please consider making your own contribution.


Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE.

One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE.

Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE.




  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ray Illingworth with Mike Brearley the 2 best England captains imo.Ray was certainly a intense competitor I also loved the mutual respect between,Ray and Ian Chappell,RIP Ray Illingworth

  2. Peter Flynn says

    What is not well known is he scored 476 at 52.89 in 1970 v Rest of the World.

    And captained Leicestershire with great distinction.

    He was one of those players who was never out.

Leave a Comment