London: England fast bowler Graham Dilley, an Ashes-winning hero in 1981, has died after a brief battle against cancer. Dilley, 52, died this morning at a hospice in Leicester.

Dilley, who played 40 Tests and 36 one-day internationals between 1979 and 1989, was twice divorced and leaves four children, including Chris Pennel who is a captain of Premier rugby club Worcester, reports a newspaper.

Dilley will be better remembered for his batting in the 1981 Ashes Test at Headingley when he shared a match-turning 117-run partnership with Ian Botham for the eighth wicket in 80 minutes, his contribution being an aggressive 56 - his highest Test score.

A trained diamond cutter, he was summoned from his day job to make his debut for his native Kent at the age of 18 in 1977 and he was barely 20 when he made his debut in a one-day international against the West Indies at Sydney in November 1979.

Two weeks later he made his Test debut in Perth, taking three wickets in the match and scoring an unbeaten 38 in England's first innings, though England lost the match.

Dilley went on to take 138 Test wickets, including six five-wicket hauls with a best of six for 38 against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1988.

He joined Worcestershire in 1987 and helped them win the County Championship in 1988 and 1989, though increasing injuries forced him into retirement in 1992.

Dilley then had spells coaching at Surrey, as bowling coach to the England women's team and as assistant coach to the England senior squad in India ten years ago.

'Graham made a life-long contribution to the game of cricket at all levels and we are deeply saddened by the news this morning,' ECB chief executive David Collier said in a statement.

'He will be fondly remembered for his contributions both as a player and a coach.

'Few will forget his contribution during the historic Ashes win at Headingley in 1981 and the part he played in two Ashes series victories.'

(Agencies)