David Gower and ICC pay tribute to ‘giant of English cricket’ Ray Illingworth

David Gower has paid tribute to "one of the great captains" following the news that Ray Illingworth had died on Christmas Day, aged 89.

Illingworth famously led England to a 2-0 Ashes win down under in 1970-71, with Greg Chappell later labelling the tourists the 'mentally toughest' side he'd ever played against.

Only in November, Illingworth had confirmed he was undergoing radiotherapy for esophageal cancer.

He also enjoyed a hugely successful domestic career with Yorkshire and Leicestershire, and finished his international career having played 61 Tests for England between 1958 and 1973, scoring 1,836 runs and claiming 122 wickets.

He captained England 31 times, winning 12 of those matches.

After retiring from playing he became a media pundit and was renowned for his outspoken views. Eventually he became the chairman of England's Board of Test Selectors and the England cricket coach.

And another former England skipper in David Gower, who played under Illingworth during the early parts of his career at Leicestershire, spoke glowingly about his former teammate on Twitter.

Gower, currently out in Australia commentating on the Ashes for BT Sport, said: "I must pay tribute to my now late captain. Ray Illingworth was one of the great captains.

"His job was to 'turn me from a gifted amateur into a gifted pro'. Jury still out on that but I will be eternally grateful for his support in my formative days."

The International Cricket Council meanwhile, has described Illingworth as "a giant of English cricket" following his death.

ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said: "Ray Illingworth was a giant of English cricket and was one of England's finest captains.

"He made an enormous contribution to the game, not just as England's captain, but also as coach and chairman of selectors. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

An ICC statement read: "The International Cricket Council has expressed grief at the passing of former England captain Ray Illingworth at the age of 89.

"He had a tremendous first-class career, accumulating 24,134 runs and taking 2,072 wickets. He also led Yorkshire to three consecutive County Championship wins from 1966 to 1968.

"After retirement, Illingworth turned to broadcast and was a part of BBC's television coverage. He also served as England's coach in 1995/96 and was the chairman of selectors between 1994 and 1996."

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