'Deeply saddened': Cricket world rocked by England legend's death

Pictured right, former England captain Ray Illingworth is being remembered across the cricket world after a long and hugely successful career.
Former England captain Ray Illingworth (R) is being remembered across the cricket world after a long and hugely successful career. Pic: Getty

Tributes are pouring in on social media, following news that former England captain Ray Illingworth has died at the age of 89.

Illingworth - who had been undergoing radiotherapy for esophageal cancer before his death - famously led England to a 2-0 Ashes series victory in Australia in 1970-71.

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The decorated allrounder enjoyed a hugely successful domestic career with Yorkshire and Leicestershire, playing 61 Tests for England between 1958 and 1973.

He scored 1836 runs at an average of 23.24, and claimed 122 wickets at 31.20, while captaining England 31 times and winning 12 of those matches.

Illingworth served as chairman of selectors for England between 1993 and 1996 and coached the national team in 1995-96.

"It's always incredibly sad to lose a person who has given so much to the English game, and to the sport of cricket in general," England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison said in a statement.

"Ray was a superb cricketer, and his deep love, passion and knowledge for the game meant he continued to contribute long after his playing days had finished."

Illingworth's first-class career spanned a remarkable 32 years from his debut in 1951 to his final appearance in 1983.

Seen here, former England captain's Mike Atherton and Ray Illingworth at practice before a Test match in 1995.
Former England captain's Mike Atherton and Ray Illingworth are see here during a practice session before a Test match in 1995. Pic: Getty

He finished with a total of 24,134 first-class runs and 2072 wickets and was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1960.

Michael Atherton, who captained England during Illingworth's controversial stint as selector and coach, with the pair failing to see eye to eye, paid tribute on Twitter ahead of the Boxing Day Ashes Test.

"Hope England can put on the kind of tough, shrewd performance that Ray Illingworth would have enjoyed," wrote Atherton.

Former England player and coach David Lloyd said on Twitter: "Saddened to hear about the passing of Raymond Illingworth ... a man of cricket ... a cricket man."

England's Ashes squad are wearing black armbands in the Boxing Day Test in honour of the England legend.

Ray Illingworth praised after long and successful career

Illingworth played for Yorkshire from 1951 to 1968, leading them to three successive County Championship victories in those final three years, before joining Leicestershire in 1969, remaining at Grace Road until 1978.

He returned to Yorkshire initially as team manager, before making his playing comeback at the age of 50 in 1982.

Yorkshire paid tribute to "the club's most successful modern day captain".

"We are deeply saddened to learn that Ray Illingworth has passed away," the county said in a statement.

"His success at county level was matched on the international scene, enjoying a long career with England as captain.

"Our thoughts are with Ray's family and the wider Yorkshire family who held Ray so dear to their hearts."

Leicestershire said on Twitter: "Everybody at Leicestershire County Cricket Club are deeply, deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Captain, Ray Illingworth.

"Our thoughts are with Illy's family and friends at this difficult time."

with AAP

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