The man that emerged from those pages was a thoughtful, mordant character who ran obsessively to protect his knees and who spent most of his days fretting about his bowling, his batting, his team-mates, his life. He escaped as often as he could into his Bob Dylan albums. 'Home to more Dylan' was a regular sign-off; he'd even added Dylan as his middle name via deed poll.
Bob's voice, like Bob Dylan's, turned out to be something of an acquired taste. He's much better in his new role as a studio foil to Charles Colville. There, he can be as terrifically trenchant as the other Bob, too [A friend of mine knew the guitarist Mick Ronson, who'd once played with Dylan, and he said that Dylan wouldn't tell the other musicians what key he was going to play the songs in. They had to wait till he started and watch his hands].
So Bob's Dylan affinity runs deeper than just music, I'd guess. Someone told me a funny story about him the other week. It only works written down if you read it with Willis's voice in your head, the words drawn out to impossible length.
In the story, Bob was asked if he got much mail at the Sky Sports offices.
'Oh yes,' he drawled.
What was it like?
'Ooh,' said Bob, 'vilification, mostly...'