Ian Botham on Thursday described Bob Willis as a "big brother" and "amazing friend" after his fellow former England captain and 1981 Ashes star lost his battle with cancer. <p></p> <p></p>Fast bowler Willis, who played in 90 Tests and took 325 wickets, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 70. <p></p> <p></p>He famously took 8/43 in the 1981 third Test against Australia at Headingley, changing the course of the series which became known as 'Botham's Ashes'. <p></p> <p></p>"He was a guy that, whenever I had problems in the cricketing world or in my personal life, he was always there to help me," Botham told <em>Sky News</em>. "He was like a big brother. There are certain friendships you have in your life but very few as close as it was with Bob. <p></p> <p></p>"An amazing guy, great cricketer, very underestimated by a lot of people for many years. He was the best quick bowler I played with representing England because he was quick. He was a unique bowler, because you would never teach anyone to run up and bowl like that. <p></p> <p></p>"I knew that he was very, very ill. I saw him last Thursday, went down and sat with him for a while, but when it actually happens it's a major shock still. You can't really be prepared for losing such a close, close friend." <p></p> <p></p>Willis's 1981 Headingley heroics will be forever etched into the memories of English cricket fans. <p></p> <p></p>England, trailing 1-0 in the six-match series, were staring at a humiliating defeat after being forced to follow on, before Botham's spectacular 149 not out gave them a glimmer of hope. <p></p> <p></p>Australia, chasing just 130 to win, looked on course for victory at 56-1 but Willis then went on the rampage, taking eight wickets as the tourists collapsed to 111 all out. <p></p> <p></p>England went on to win the series 3-1 and Willis finished with 29 wickets at 22.96 in six matches.