While we will go head-to-head with old rivals Somerset on the pitch in search of honours at Lord’s this week, off the pitch the focus will be on one man – Bob Willis.
The former England captain and Sky Sports pundit, who made over 90 test appearances for his country in a playing career that spanned two decades, died from prostate cancer in December 2019. His death united the cricket world, with the ECB ensuring his legacy would live on in the sport by naming the first tournament of 2020 – and the first following the Covid-19 pandemic – the Bob Willis Trophy.
Captain, Tom Westley, said: “Bob was a true England legend and a player that we all looked up to and were inspired by as youngsters. Everyone in the sport was devastated to hear of his passing last year, so it’s great to see his life and career remembered through the Bob Willis Trophy.
“Hearing that prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK and that it kills one man every 45 minutes is pretty shocking. But they’re stats that we can all help to overcome by supporting the work of Prostate Cancer UK.
“Prostate Cancer UK is blazing a trail in raising awareness of the disease across the sporting world, and it’s excellent to see that extend into cricket with their presence at the final of the Bob Willis Trophy this week.
“The Man of Men pin badge has become iconic in football, and I’m hoping that it can help drive awareness and change in cricket too. It represents Bob, and all the men lost to the disease and their families and shows why we must come together in the fight against prostate cancer.”
His wife, Lauren Clark, has teamed up with leading men’s health charity Prostate Cancer UK to raise vital funds and to encourage men at greater risk of prostate cancer to visit their GP.
“The fact that in the UK, prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed of all the cancers goes to show why a lot more needs to be done into prostate cancer research,” she said.
“Yes, it’s true that only men can get it; I can’t get it, but like too many wives, partners and families – I couldn’t have been more affected by it. I want to help people with prostate cancer. I want Bob to have a legacy.”
One in eight men in the UK will be affected by prostate cancer at some point in their lives, with that statistic rising to one in four for black men. It is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, reinforcing the need to take action. This month, Prostate Cancer UK launched a new online risk checker, when men and their families can find out if they are at increased risk of the disease and what steps they can take – and that extends to the Essex cricketing family.
The inaugural Bob Willis Trophy final at Lords will see branding from Prostate Cancer UK around the ground and on the stumps, with the winner’s trophy based on a drawing of Bob by Lauren. Royalties from Bob’s book, Bob Willis – A Cricketer and a Gentleman, have also come to the charity.
Fans can text BOB to 70004 to donate £10 to Prostate Cancer UK or visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bobwillis