Bob Willis would have been 'stunned' by trophy says widow

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24 Jul 2020 | 07:06 PM
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AFP

Bob Willis would have been 'stunned' by trophy says widow

All 18 first-class counties will compete for the Bob Willis Trophy this season in a shortened alternative to the County Championship

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The late Bob Willis had been determined to make the English county cricket season work better and would have been "stunned and proud" to see clubs competing for a trophy bearing his name, the England great's widow has said.

All 18 first-class counties will compete for the Bob Willis Trophy this season in a shortened alternative to the County Championship after the coronavirus outbreak made it impossible to stage a full red-ball domestic campaign.

Former fast bowler Willis, who also captained England and later became a respected television pundit, died aged 70 in December.

The winners of this year's regionalised red-ball competition will receive silverware based on a cubist-inspired painting of Willis by his widow, Lauren Clark.

"Bob would have been unbelievably stunned and proud of it, and by the reaction of people since his death," said Clark.

"Only a couple of years ago he spent ages working on spreadsheets trying to work out how to make the summer season work better.

"He was a real advocate for change in the County Championship for so many years and now, in the first year after his death, it has had to be changed for such strange reasons."

Clark said she had painted the picture, of Willis bowling, as a reaction to being in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and feeling her late husband's absence.

"I was stunned by the reaction from people. It's cubist but I wanted the hair, the ball and the stumps to be quite obvious."

Reigning county champions Essex begin the south group at home to Kent on August 1, with London rivals Middlesex and Surrey meeting at the Kia Oval.

Middlesex will play their home matches at Radlett and not at Lord's, their traditional base in London.

That could mean there are no first-class matches at the 'home of cricket' this season, unless the England and Wales Cricket Board decide to stage the Willis Trophy final there.

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