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Allott approves of Bob Willis tribute

Allott approves of Bob Willis tribute

The ECB announced this morning that a truncated First-Class competition is to be called the Bob Willis Trophy

Lancashire’s Director of Cricket, Paul Allott is pleased to see this summer’s First-Class competition named after his close friend, the late Bob Willis.

Durham chairman Sir Ian Botham suggested the one-off abridged version of the County Championship be named after the former England fast bowler, with Allott for one very much in favour of ‘The Bob Willis Trophy’ or similar.

And the ECB this morning confirmed the name for the First-Class competition.

Willis claimed 325 wickets from 90 Tests between 1971 and 1984, and he was also most recently a popular TV pundit with Sky Sports. The former Surrey and Warwickshire player died aged 70 last December.

“It would be great and wonderful recognition for Bob, who was a champion of the game in every aspect,” said Allott in advance of the announcement.

“He may have come across as a bit of a curmudgeon on the TV, and he cultivated that persona quite beautifully, actually. But there was nobody more delighted if England did well or if players performed well.

“Bob was an attempted reformer of the game. He was part of the Cricket Reform Group in the early 2000s. 

“He and I, I remember, sat on the boundary edge in up country India - in Nagpur - 40 years ago trying to devise a method and a structure for county cricket that would make it more productive both for players and for England.

“It never quite came to fruition. But for Bob to have a tournament named after him would be very fitting.”

A five-day final at Lord’s at the end of September is also on the cards to decide the winner. Allott played three Test matches there for England - against India in 1982, against Sri Lanka in 1984 and Australia a year later.

For many county cricketers not lucky enough to play a Test there, it would be a particularly wonderful occasion.

“Lord’s is one of the finest grounds in the world - if not the finest,” said Allott. “The atmosphere is spectacular, Conditions are tricky for bowlers with the slope if you haven’t bowled there much before, but in terms of heritage and tradition, atmosphere and drama, it’s very hard to beat.

“Any chance to play there will be gratefully received, and a final there would be a fantastic showpiece.”

Allott is delighted that the county chairmen voted through red ball and T20 competitions to be played in the near two-month season from August 1.

There will be extra challenges for Lancashire to host games given Emirates Old Trafford is being used as a bio-secure venue for England’s international matches until mid-September.

Until then, the former fast bowler said: “We are hopeful we can set Liverpool up to be our home venue.”

If not, Lancashire would have to play more away games than at home.

Allott also confirmed that Lancashire will not be looking to make any short-term overseas signings now the return of domestic cricket has been confirmed.

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