Former England cricket captain Ray Illingworth has revealed he is having treatment for esophageal cancer and has underlined his support for a law change on assisted dying.
Illingworth is 89 and is one of four living England captains to have overseen an Ashes victory in Australia.
His wife, Shirley, died in March from cancer and Illingworth says that after caring for her he believes that terminally ill patients should be allowed to choose to end their life.
Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: ‘I don’t want to have the last 12 months that my wife had. She had a terrible time going from hospital to hospital and in pain. I don’t want that.
‘I would rather go peacefully. I believe in assisted dying. The way my wife was, there was no pleasure in life in the last 12 months and I don’t see the point of living like that, to be honest.
‘But we don’t have assisted dying in England yet so you don’t have the option do you? They are debating it and I think it will come eventually.
Former England cricket captain Ray Illingworth is having treatment for esophageal cancer
Illingworth lost his wife Shirley (pictured alongside him in 1973 when he received his CBE) to cancer in March and he now supports a change to the laws over assisted dying
‘A lot of doctors are against it but if they had to live like my wife did in her last 12 months they might change their minds.’
Under the 1961 Suicide Act, anyone helping someone take their own life in this country could face a 14-year prison sentence. There was a proposed change to the law, the Assisted Dying Act, which was debated in the House of Lords in October.
Illingworth himself is hoping for good news on his own prognosis next month.
‘They got rid of a lot of the tumour but there were still two centimetres left, originally it was eight,’ he said. ‘They are just hoping to get rid of the last bit with extra double doses.
‘I will see how these next two doses go, keep my fingers crossed and hope I have a bit of luck.’
Illingworth played 61 Test matches for England from 1958 until 1973. He captained England for 31 Tests, winning 12, losing five and drawing 14.
Illingworth is one of four living England captains to have overseen an Ashes victory in Australia
Illingworth (right) played 61 Test matches for England from 1958 until 1973
He was awarded a CBE for his services to cricket in 1973.
The current England captain, Joe Root, is aiming to repeat Illingworth’s heroics as an Ashes captain in the impending series that starts next month.
England meet Australia at The Gabba in the first Test which begins on December 8.
- Exclusive: Ray Illingworth reveals he is fighting cancer – and wants the right to end his own life