Graham Dilley – A Small Appreciation
Fifty-two is no age. I’d been texted the sad news that guitarist Bert Jansch had passed away yesterday. When I got home I turned to the net to read more, and was aghast to read the news that ‘Picca’ had also gone.
I remember feeling old when Michael Atherton, three years younger than myself, retired. I had followed his career closely from university tyro to promising young Lancastrian to the future of English cricket, patching together an ever-changing cast of underachievers in those pre-central contract days.
Now, I find myself reading obituaries of a man only five years my senior, who I recall watching as a schoolboy on the BBC. A picture of youth; blonde locks and fresh faced with a run up of which a 1970’s West Indian would have been proud and, at his best, with pace to match. A Kent player to boot. As a schoolboy, born and bred in the county, I loved that Kent team with a passion not matched by a cricket side since.
He was the latest in the Kent production line feeding the English test side of the era; following from Cowdrey, there was England’s greatest ever wicket keeper/bowler partnership – Knott and Underwood, plus Luckhurst, Denness and Woolmer.
I’ve read the obituaries. His place in history is secure. He’ll be remembered for Lillee c. Willey b. Dilley and for that key role, the ‘fuselighter’ of Headingley ‘81; his 56 runs prompted Beefy’s shift of gears, not to mention the catch on the boundary. I was astonished to read that in his 41 tests, he was only twice a winner. An incredible statistic that says more about the chaotic mess of selection and politics that surrounded the team at the time than his performance; a non-too-shabby 138 wickets at 29 each.
By all accounts, a genuinely nice guy and a great coach. Graham Roy Dilley, RIP.