Topley pays tribute to Dilley

EX-ESSEX cricketer Don Topley has paid tribute to the former England fast bowler Graham Dilley who has died aged 52 after a short illness.

Dilley is best remembered for his contribution to the England cause with the bat, when he supported Ian Botham in a 117-run partnership which helped England to the famous Ashes Test win over Australia at Headingley in 1981.

Topley recalled how he spent the winter of 1985/86 with Dilley in South Africa.

“He was the overseas pro for Natal and I was the junior pro. He showed me the ropes in my first winter abroad as a cricketer. Although we didn’t lodge together because he was married and his wife was there, we used to meet up three times a week. He would organise the training for the Natal boys.

“He was a fine bowler and a wonderful bloke - very unassuming and down-to-earth.”

The former Kent and Worcestershire bowler played 41 Test matches and 36 One-Day Internationals for England during a 10-year international career which encompassed two Ashes Series wins in 1981 and 1986-87.

One of the quickest bowlers of his generation, he took 138 Test wickets at 29.78 for his country. After retiring, he moved into coaching and enjoyed spells as an assistant coach with the England men’s team and bowling coach to the England women’s team before taking up a position as head cricket coach at Loughborough University.

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Topley, now a teacher at the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook, said: “I sent a number of pupils to Loughborough University with him in mind, knowing he would look after them as cricketers.

“He was really kind and generous with his time, and always took an avid interest in Reece,” said Topley, referring to his own son who is a fast bowler with Essex and England Under-19s.

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