Former England fast bowler and Ashes-winner Graham Dilley has died at the age of 52 after a short illness.

Dilley, who played in 41 Tests and took 138 wickets, will be remembered forever for the part his tail-end batting played in Ian Botham's heroics in the famous Ashes Test at Headingley in 1981.

In a 10-year international career, Dilley - initially of Kent and then Worcestershire - helped England win the urn in that astounding 1981 series, and retain it Down Under in 1986-87.

Worcestershire chief executive David Leatherdale, who played alongside Dilley for the county, said the death of his former team-mate was "a sad loss".

"It's come very much as a shock to the club and to a lot of individuals at the club," Leatherdale said on Sky Sports News.

"Graham was a major part of the success the club had in the late 1980s.

"We only really found out he was ill to the level he has been two or three days ago, so it's come as a major shock."

Leatherdale added: "There are fond memories personally and from the club as well.

"He will be a sad loss to the club."

Dilley scored 56 as he helped Botham put on 117 runs for the eighth wicket at Headingley in 1981, after England had followed on in an apparently impossible position. They went on to win the match by 18 runs on the back of Botham's 149 not out and Bob Willis' eight for 43.

Dilley's former Worcestershire captain Phil Neale remembers the Test bowler as a "great servant" to the club, during a time of high achievement for the county.

Neale, who has gone on to be England's long-serving team manager, points out that - although (Ian) Botham's arrival from Somerset dominated the headlines as Worcestershire's big signing - Dilley's presence was equally important.

"I'm very sad to see him go. He was a great servant to Worcestershire," he said.

"He was a big part of Worcestershire's success in that five-year period he was with the club.

"A lot of attention went to Ian, when he came at the same time, and I don't think a lot of people realised what an impact Graham had."

Neale was particularly struck by Dilley's professionalism on and off the field - a characteristic brought home to him when the strike bowler approached his captain at an early-season chairman's barbecue in 1988 to discuss the key fixtures for the remainder of the summer.

Worcestershire, also a major force at the time in all the limited-overs competitions, went on to win the county championship that year.

"He was playing with injuries, but was always reading the game and working out - helping me - when I might need him to bowl.

"He has this reputation as a laid-back guy. But he had taken the time to try to map it all out - just what you want to see, as a captain, from your major players."

Sir Ian Botham added to tributes by saying: "I've got so many fond memories of him.

"He ran in to bowl in the Caribbean, first ball, and the heel fell off his boot.

"Typical Graham he's only brought one pair with him on an England tour so there was panic there, but he was a fantastic cricketer who had a lot of talent.

"He was plagued with injuries, his neck and knees, which probably stopped him playing a lot more for England, but on his day he was the best.

"I had a lot of great times with him. He had a great sense of humour, he always wanted to be part of the party and join in.

"He was a good bloke to be around. He was quite quiet and reserved until you got to know him, but then he was the life and soul of the party.

"It's a very sad day."

After retiring, Dilley became an assistant England coach and then bowling coach of the national women's team.

ECB chief executive David Collier said: "Graham made a lifelong contribution to the game of cricket at all levels, and we are deeply saddened by the sad news this morning.

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

"Graham inspired many young cricketers through the (Loughborough) University programme and was a highly-respected coach to our representative teams.

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

"Graham will be sadly missed by all his friends throughout cricket, and ECB send our deepest condolences to Graham's family."

ECB managing director Hugh Morris said: "This is very sad news for Graham's many friends and colleagues in cricket, both in this country and overseas.

"As well as being a bowler of the highest class, Graham made an immense contribution to our game as a coach - and his ability to impart his knowledge and wisdom to future generations of young cricketers will be sorely missed."

As well as his stints on the England staff, Dilley was a Loughborough MCC Universities coach and helped the likes of Monty Panesar emerge as international class.

MCC head of cricket John Stephenson, the former Essex and Hampshire batsman, got to know Dilley well in their playing days, which overlapped.

Stephenson was also appreciative of Dilley's work as a coach, and said: "I'm extremely sad to hear of Graham's death.

"He was a world-class bowler who I played against many times and he became a very good friend.

"As a coach, he made a huge impact as part of the MCC Universities programme; he was central to the progress made at Loughborough over the last decade and he will be much missed by all of us at the club."

1959: Born May 18, Dartford, Kent.
1977: Makes his first-class debut for Kent against Cambridge University, aged 18.
1979: November - Makes one-day international debut for England against West Indies in Sydney.
December - Makes Test debut against Australia in the Ashes at Perth to become the youngest cricketer to play a Test match for England in 30 years. Dilley took three wickets in the match, which is best remembered for part of the second innings scorecard which read: Lillee - c. Willey, b. Dilley 19.
1981: Partners Ian Botham in a 117-run stand to help England to a famous Ashes Test win over Australia at Headingley.
1986: Recalled by England and takes five for 68 in the first Test match at Brisbane to set England on their way to an Ashes win.
1987: Signs for Worcestershire, along with Botham, and helps the county win four trophies in three years in the most successful period in their history.
1988: Plays his last ODI against West Indies at Headingley.
1989: Plays his last Test match against Australia at Edgbaston, ending his career with 138 Test wickets at an average of 29.78.
1992: Retires from first-class cricket.
2001: Accompanies England on their tour to India as a coach.
2011: Dies aged 52 following a short illness.