Ray Illingworth reveals he has cancer and wants laws over assisted dying to be changed

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.


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  • Exclusive: Ray Illingworth reveals he is fighting cancer – and wants the right to end his own life

Ballon d’Or: Sergio Ramos backs PSG team-mate Lionel Messi despite old rivalry

Sergio Ramos has thrown his support behind Lionel Messi ahead of today’s Ballon d’Or ceremony.

The Argentine star is in the running to claim the prestigious gong for a seventh time and is the bookmakers’ favourite to add to his six titles. 

Ramos and Messi have gone from being fierce rivals from their days at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively to team-mates following the pair’s shock moves to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer. 

Sergio Ramos (second left) has backed PSG team-mate Lionel Messi (right) for the Ballon d’Or

Ramos and Messi started together for the first time on Sunday following shock moves to PSG

Ramos and Messi have gone from being fierce rivals to team-mates. The pair square up to each other here in El Clasico  in March 2019 after Ramos caught Messi in the face with his elbow



Premier League: Cesar Azpilicueta, Kevin De Bruyne, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Dias, Bruno Fernandes, Phil Foden, Jorginho, Harry Kane, N’Golo Kante, Romelu Lukaku, Riyad Mahrez, Mason Mount, Mohamed Salah, Raheem Sterling

Serie A: Nicolo Barella, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Simon Kjaer, Lautaro Martinez

LaLiga: Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Gerard Moreno, Pedri, Luis Suarez

Ligue 1: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Neymar

Bundesliga: Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski


Ramos was sent off twice for swiping out at Messi and also caught him with his elbow during their previous heated El Clasico tussles.

The duo started together for the Ligue 1 giants for the first time in a 3-1 victory at Saint-Etienne on Sunday after linking up earlier this year, and Ramos has now backed Messi to be crowned the Ballon d’Or winner again. 

‘Yes, of course [I hope he wins],’ Ramos told ESPN.

‘I’m going to defend the guys in my team. I wish him all the luck in the world.

‘He’s in good shape, and I think he’s the kind of player who really makes a difference. He’s a unique player and it’s a privilege to have him in the team.

‘I think that bit by bit, each of us is going to bring our own quality to make Paris Saint-Germain even greater and achieve the things we want to achieve.’ 

Messi scored 38 goals in 47 games last season, helping guide Barcelona to the Copa del Rey before winning the Copa America with his country this summer. He has scored four goals and supplied three assists in 11 matches for PSG this season. 

Messi leads the way ahead of Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski, who was harshly denied the award last year after it was cancelled due to Covid, while 14 players from the Premier League have been nominated.

The defender was sent off twice for swiping out at the forward during their days in Spain

Both swapped Spain for France earlier this year as they linked up together at PSG


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England’s Ashes preparations suffer another huge setback in Australia

England will head into the Ashes without any first-class preparation and might not get any meaningful action at all this week due to the horrific weather forecast in Queensland.

In contrast to the triumphant tour of 2010-11 when coach Andy Flower prioritised building momentum into the main event with emphatic wins over Western Australia and Australia A in an unbeaten warm-up, Joe Root’s team are going to have to be creative with what little time remains ahead of taking on Australia at the Gabba from next Wednesday.

Heavy rain is scheduled to fall from Tuesday, the start of a four-day fixture between England and England Lions at Ian Healy Oval.

England will head into the Ashes without any first-class preparation because of bad weather

Heavy rain is expected from Tuesday, the start of a match between England and England Lions


The England Lions game will not be under first-class regulations to allow World Cup players just out of quarantine the freedom to join the contest late or play managed roles

The team management opted not to play it under first-class regulations to allow the five World Cup players only just out of quarantine the freedom to either join the contest late or play managed roles.

Now that flexibility is to be extended further due to the likelihood of the match following the way of last week’s three-day game which was decimated by downpours. 

With reduced playing time inevitable, one option being explored is to add a fifth day, although a clash with local grade cricket on Saturday might scupper that. England are due to move to the Gabba nets from Sunday but are also sourcing alternative weekend venues for centre-wicket practice and indoor facilities as a back-up.

‘It won’t be a first-class fixture, but it will be played as close to the intensity of a first-class game as possible. Ideally, we want that intensity to be as high as we can close to the Test matches,’ Root said.

‘The quality of the players will be there from both teams and, because of the lack of preparation that we’ve had in that previous three-day game, having that extra bit of flexibility to make sure we can get as many guys as possible what they need throughout these four days is going to be crucial.

Heavy rain in Queensland saw last week’s three-day game decimated by heavy downpours

‘But in terms of how we’ll approach it as two teams, there’s a lot of people that will want to prove things and will want to show that they deserve an opportunity for that first Test match. 

‘So, I expect the standards to be very high, and I expect it to be very competitive. And so it should be. This is a really good chance for us to get ahead of things, maybe get ahead of Australia in terms of preparation and game-time ahead of the series, and it would be silly for us to just cosy our way through the four days. It has to be good, hard proper cricket that we’ll benefit from.’

Australia have scrapped plans to play their own intra-squad match up the road at Redlands from Wednesday due to a combination of the adverse conditions and the fact that 11 of their World-Cup winning players have just exited quarantine and could do with a break apart from each other.

Mark Wood and Chris Woakes, two of England’s Twenty20 squad, will play for the England Lions to maximise opportunities for those in contention to face the Australians next week.

Of the unusual build-up, Root added: ‘We’ve done a lot of brilliant planning in the last couple of years, about mentally, how we can be ready, and what’s going to work on different surfaces and different grounds and having a really good idea of how we’re going to break down their team.

Australia, coached by Justin Langer (above), scrapped plans for their own intra-squad game

‘It might be that, in the next couple of days, we get some similar weather, and we don’t get the time out there in the middle. But it’s important that – whether you play those games in your mind a little bit more, visualise a little bit more – you find different ways of making sure that when that first ball comes down at the Gabba, we’re in the best place possible to come out on top.’

Ben Stokes remains on course to end his eight-month Test absence, despite a lack of competitive bowling and a recent scare when he believed he had broken his forearm batting in the nets.

‘It was a bit of a concern. The wickets, because of the weather, have been slightly spicy and guys have really had to get stuck in. There have been a few little knocks here and there,’ Root said.

‘To see Ben get hit like that was obviously a scary moment. We all know how crucial he is within our squad, but he seems to have come through it pretty well.’

Meanwhile, with most of the touring group’s families intending to join the trip already in tow – it is believed only three are scheduled to arrive for Christmas – Australia’s changing Covid rules should provide minimal disruption to plans.