sport news NASSER HUSSAIN: Bob Willis created this grumpy image for TV. But that's all it ...

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NASSER HUSSAIN: Bob Willis created this grumpy image for TV. But that's all it was. He was a great man, loved by everyone, and nobody cared more for his country

By Nasser Hussain for the Daily Mail

Published: 16:06 GMT, 4 December 2019 | Updated: 16:16 GMT, 4 December 2019

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The Bob Willis you saw on TV and the image he created as a somewhat grumpy persona, staring at the camera and coming out with so many great lines, was far from the truth.

When people take on the role Bob did they can sometimes be happy when England do badly because it gives them ammunition and something to be miserable about. It can make their era seem better for the 'in my day' type of pundit.

But the one thing I found out very quickly when I started working with Bob at Sky was that he was desperate for England to do well. He was England through and through. He absolutely loved it when they won games.

Former England captain Bob Willis (left) sadly passed away on Wednesday, aged 70

Former England captain Bob Willis (left) sadly passed away on Wednesday, aged 70

On TV Willis had the persona of a grumpy persona, but that couldn't be further from the truth

On TV Willis had the persona of a grumpy persona, but that couldn't be further from the truth

He was a model professional around the commentary box, too. He would turn up early, do his prep and research and always gave the director and producer great 'grabs' to work with. For instance I can remember him building up towards the first ball of the 2005 Ashes as if it were a boxing contest and he found the perfect words to describe Brian Lara's history making batting against us in Antigua. He would nail the theatre of the moment.

And he made such a niche for himself on the Verdict and Debate programmes. In recent years when England had been having a bad day I just had to look at social media to see so many people saying 'I can't wait to hear what Bob Willis has got to say about this.'

I fell into the trap myself of believing the Willis TV persona when I played. The three fingers I aimed at the media

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