The Bob Willis Trophy is 20in tall and depicts a silver, grey and black outline of Big Bob in full flow, about to deliver, red ball in hand. Based on a cubist painting of him by his widow Lauren Clark, the figure, although flat, conjures a dynamic flail of angular limbs not unlike the man himself.
Willis died of prostate cancer last December at the age of 70 and this trophy, fashioned by Edward Asprey, the Queen’s jeweller, celebrates one of the more remarkable cricketers to have played for England. He then followed that by becoming one of Sky TV’s most distinctive commentators, his trenchant views and unerring nose for the game’s fault lines making for compelling viewing.
The competition, which began on Saturday, is the first official county cricket to be played this season following the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Necessarily brief, the Bob Willis Trophy will be contested by all 18 first-class counties playing five four-day games in three regional groups with a five-day final in early September deciding the winner. Interestingly, Willis advocated a three-conference county system 30 years ago.
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