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|Full name||Alec Victor Bedser|
|Born||4 July 1918|
Reading, Berkshire, England
|Died||4 April 2010 91) (aged|
Woking, Surrey, England
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Bowling||Right arm medium-fast|
|Relations||Eric Bedser (twin brother)|
|Test debut(cap 311)||22 June 1946 v India|
|Last Test||12 July 1955 v South Africa|
|Domestic team information|
Source: CricketArchive, 7 January 2009
Sir Alec Victor Bedser(4 July 1918 – 4 April 2010) was a professional English cricketer, primarily a medium-fast bowler. He is widely regarded as one of the best English cricketers of the 20th century.
Bedser played first-class cricket for Surrey from 1939 to 1960 alongside his identical twin brother Eric. He took 1924 first-class wickets in 485 matches. He played Test cricket for England from 1946 to 1955, taking 236 wickets in 51 Test matches. He passed Clarrie Grimmett's world record for Test wickets in 1953. He held the record until his final tally was passed by Brian Statham in 1963.
After retirement as an active cricketer, Bedser became the chairman of selectors for the English national cricket team, and was the president of Surrey County Cricket Club. He was knighted in the 1997 New Year Honours.
Bedser was born in Reading, Berkshire, ten minutes after his identical twin brother Eric (1918–2006). His father was a bricklayer, but had been stationed in Reading with the Royal Air Force during the First World War. The brothers remained inseparable through their lives: they often dressed identically, and shared a bank account; neither married.
Within six months the family moved to Horsell, Surrey, where, at the age of seven, the brothers played their first organised cricket. The family moved to Knaphill, Surrey and then to a house they helped their father to build in Woking. They were educated at Maybury Junior School and then Monument Hill Central School in Woking. Over the next decade, the twin brothers played cricket together for Monument Hill School and Woking Cricket Club. They also both played football for Monument Hill School, both as full backs.
After leaving school, Eric and Alec became clerks at the same firm of solicitors in Lincoln's Inn Fields. They were spotted practising in the nets for Woking Cricket Club by Surrey coach Alan Peach, and he recruited them to the staff at the Oval in 1938. Initially, they were both medium-fast bowlers, but (after Alec won a toss of a coin) Eric became an off spinner instead. They made their first-class débuts for Surrey against Oxford University in June 1939.
Their cricket careers were soon interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. They both joined the RAF police, and were sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force. They both narrowly escaped being shot before being evacuated from Dunkirk, and later served in North Africa, Italy and Austria.
Eric was promoted to Warrant Officer, but Alec refused a similar promotion, staying a flight sergeant so they could continue to serve together. They were demobilised in 1946.
Alec Bedser founded England's eventual success. He toiled for hours without complaint, and never once looked annoyed at the missing of a catch, or at a rejected l.b.w. appeal. A great bowler, and an example to all who aspire to cricketing fame. The schoolboys who cheered him, and the elderly folk who applauded politely, all realised one thing. In Alec Bedser England had the best bowler Australia had seen for years, and friend and foe alike admitted the fact.
- John Kay
Alec Bedser's performances during war-time cricket matches were impressive: in games for the RAF he took 6 wickets for 27 runs (including a hat-trick) against the West Indies and 9 for 36, featuring another hat-trick, against a Metropolitan Police team.
In his first full season for Surrey, in 1946, he passed 100 wickets before July and established himself as a bowler in the England Test team. In each of his first two Tests, against the visiting Indians, he took eleven wickets: 11 for 139 in his début at Lord's, including 7 in the first innings,and 11 for 96 in the next game at Old Trafford, Manchester. His amazing season resulted in his nomination as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year for 1947. He was selected for the 1946–47 Ashes series in Australia and for most of the next decade "carried England's bowling attack".
In Australia he was overbowled and exhausted and found that his natural in-swingers were liked by Australian leg-side batsmen like Sid Barnes. To counter this he gripped the ball across the seam like a spinner and the result was an in-swinging leg-break which would be known as Bedser's "Special Ball".Don Bradman wrote "the ball with which Alec Bedser bowled me in the Adelaide Test Match was, I think, the finest ever to take my wicket. It must have come three-quarters of the way straight on my off-stump, then suddenly dipped in to pitch on the leg stump, only to turn off the pitch and hit the middle and off stumps."
Meanwhile, his brother Eric became an all-rounder in the Surrey team, concentrating on his batting as the team also included spinners such as Jim Laker and Tony Lock. The two were difficult to tell apart, both 6'3" tall and just over 15 stone. Playing for Surrey against an England representative team in 1946, they are reputed to have shared an over – Alec bowling the first three balls and then swapping with Eric fielding at mid-on for Eric to complete the over – without being detected by the batsman, Frank Woolley.
In the 1950-51 Ashes series, Alec began his dominance of Australian batsmen, taking 30 wickets at an average of 16.06 and 10 for 105 in the Fifth Test when he ended Australia's unbeaten run of 26 Tests since 1938. In 1953 at 35, an age by which many fast bowlers have retired from first-class cricket, Bedser demonstrated his longevity by helping England regain the Ashes. He took 39 wickets at an average of 17.48 at home to Australia, including career-best match figures of 14 for 99 in the Nottingham Test.
Bedser founded his success on accuracy of line and length, bowled at a medium pace from a short run-up, using his powerful shoulders and large hands to achieve sharp inswing and surprising batsmen with occasional leg cutters.
Bedser was aged 36 by the first Test of the 1954–55 tour of Australia. He took 1 for 131 as seven catches were dropped off his bowling, including Arthur Morris (153) before he had scored – and England lost by an innings. He was subsequently diagnosed as suffering from shingles and despite a recovery and a green wicket tailor-made for his bowling in the second Test he was dropped from the side, and watched as the younger Frank Tyson and Brian Statham bowled England to victory. He was recalled for one Test against South Africa in 1955.
In a Test career extending from 1946 to 1955, Bedser played 51 matches and took 236 wickets (average 24.89), at the time the most wickets taken in Test cricket. He was England's post-war bowling spearhead. He had 14 new ball partners, and took five wickets in an innings 15 times and ten wickets in a match 5 times. His entire first-class career spanned 485 matches, in which he helped Surrey to eight County Championships between 1950 and 1958. Bedser occasionally captained the side in place of Stuart Surridge or Peter May. He took 100 wickets in a county season eleven times, figures that place him high amongst the game's greats. He took five or more wickets in an innings 96 times, and ten wickets or more in a match 16 times. Bedser retired from cricket in 1960, and his brother Eric retired in 1962.
After retiring from playing cricket, Bedser went into business with his brother. Among other business interests, they co-operated with Ronald Straker in a successful stationery firm, Straker-Bedser, which was later taken over by Ryman in 1977.
Bedser served as a national team selector from 1962 to 1985, and was chairman of selectors from 1968 to 1981. He was on the board of selectors who controversially left Basil d'Oliveira out of the England team for 1968's tour of South Africa. [ citation needed ]England won ten of the 18 series while Bedser was chairman of selectors. Bedser also managed two England overseas tours. Bedser was made president of Surrey in 1987 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the county's cricketing fortunes over the previous five decades. He was knighted for his services to cricket in the 1997 New Year Honours. In October 2004 Bedser was selected in 'England's Greatest Post-War XI' by The Wisden Cricketer, an authoritative monthly cricket magazine. In May 2009, Christopher Martin-Jenkins ranked Bedser 29th in picking his 100 greatest cricketers of all time.
Outside of cricket, Bedser was a founding member of the right-wing pressure group, the Freedom Association during the 1970s, which advocated the maintenance of sporting relations with South Africa during the apartheid era.
He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1964, advanced to Commander (CBE) in 1982, and in 1996 he became the first (and still only) England bowler to be knighted for services to cricket.
Neither Alec nor his brother Eric ever married. They lived together in Woking until Eric's death in 2006. Sir Alec Bedser died in hospital in Wokingon 4 April 2010 after a short illness. Among those to pay tribute to the more famous of the two brothers was former Prime Minister, well-known cricket lover and lifelong Surrey supporter John Major, who said: "Alec Bedser was one of the greatest medium-fast bowlers of all time. He was also one of the great thinkers about cricket and his wisdom was one of the great untapped resources of the modern game." For three months following the death of Arthur McIntyre on 26 December 2009, Bedser was the oldest surviving England Test cricketer. On Bedser's death, that distinction passed to Reg Simpson.
Test debut: vs India, Lord's, Middlesex, 1946
Last Test: vs South Africa, Old Trafford, Manchester, 1955
In the 1980s UK TV sitcom Chance in a Million , the main character Tom Chance (played by Simon Callow) has a fascination with Bedser and one of his prized possessions is a cricket bat autographed by him. In the episode "Honour Thy Father And Thy Mother" (17 September 1984), the bat is mauled by a dog off-screen, much to Chance's annoyance, whilst in the penultimate episode "Pre-Matrimonial Tensions" (24 November 1986), Tom's bride-to-be Alison Little (Brenda Blethyn) presents him with a book with a signed dedication by Bedser, to his great delight.
Raymond Russell Lindwall was a cricketer who represented Australia in 61 Tests from 1946 to 1960. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. He also played top-flight rugby league football with St. George, appearing in two grand finals for the club before retiring to fully concentrate on Test cricket.
The Australian cricket team in England in 1948 was captained by Don Bradman, who was making his fourth and final tour of England. The team is famous for being the only Test match side to play an entire tour of England without losing a match. This feat earned them the nickname of "The Invincibles", and they are regarded as one of the greatest cricket teams of all time. According to the Australian federal government the team "is one of Australia's most cherished sporting legends".
Arthur Robert Morris was an Australian cricketer who played 46 Test matches between 1946 and 1955. An opener, Morris is regarded as one of Australia's greatest left-handed batsmen. He is best known for his key role in Don Bradman's Invincibles side, which made an undefeated tour of England in 1948. He was the leading scorer in the Tests on the tour, with three centuries. His efforts in the Fourth Test at Headingley helped Australia to reach a world record victory target of 404 on the final day. Morris was named in the Australian Cricket Board's Team of the Century in 2000 and was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2001.
Eric Arthur Bedser was a cricketer who played for Surrey County Cricket Club. He was the elder identical twin brother of Alec Bedser (1918–2010), widely regarded as one of England's top bowlers of the 20th century. Eric was an all-rounder, a useful right-handed batsman and right-arm off-spin bowler.
Douglas Vivian Parson Wright, better known as Doug Wright, was an English cricketer. A leg-spinner for Kent and England from 1932 to 1957 he took a record seven hat-tricks in first-class cricket. He played for Kent for 19 seasons and was their first professional captain from late 1953 to 1956. Don Bradman said he was the best leg-spinner to tour Australia since Sydney Barnes, and Keith Miller thought he was the best leg-spinner he had seen apart from Bill O'Reilly. He toured Australia in 1946–47 and 1950–51, but was dogged by ill-luck and was considered to be the "unluckiest bowler in the world".
Cutting a leg-break is always dangerous, and cutting Wright is a form of suicide. Why a bowler of his skill failed to get more test-match wickets always mystified me; there was of course the marked tendency to bowl no-balls, but he sent down so many good ones, and worried and beat the batsmen so often, that he should have had better results...he seemed always likely to get wickets. It is one of the toughest problems of captaincy to know when to remove a man like that from the firing-line.
The English cricket team in Australia in 1946–47 was captained by Wally Hammond, with Norman Yardley as his vice-captain and Bill Edrich as the senior professional. It played as England in the 1946–47 Ashes series against the Australians and as the MCC in their other matches on the tour. They were regarded as a sound team which was just as strong as Australia, but due to the Second World War they were an ageing side and their bowling depended heavily on Alec Bedser and Doug Wright, who were overused and exhausted as a result. Australia beat England 3-0 in a five-match series to retain the Ashes; England suffered the worst defeat in a Test series since losing 4–1 to Australia in 1924–25. Since 1881, Tests in Australia were played to finish. That rule was changed for this series, and for the first time in 65 years, a test played in Australia ended in a draw when the third test was drawn.
Freddie Brown captained the English cricket team in Australia in 1950–51, playing as England in the 1950-51 Ashes series against the Australians and as the MCC in their other matches on the tour. They were regarded as a weak team - some critics wanted to cancel the tour - and failed to regain the Ashes. However, these facts do not tell the whole story as the inspirational Brown exposed flaws in the powerful Australian team. By winning the Fifth and final Test he ended Australia's record of 26 Tests without defeat and paved the way for England's victories in 1953, 1954-55 and 1956.
Ray Lindwall was a key member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. The Australians went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.
Arthur Morris was a key member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. The Australians went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.
Bill Johnston was a key member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. The Australians went undefeated in their 34 matches during the English summer; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.
Ernie Toshack was a member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948 and was undefeated in their 34 matches. This unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned Bradman's men the sobriquet The Invincibles.
Doug Ring was a member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team which toured England in 1948. Bradman's men went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.
The Fourth Test of the 1948 Ashes series was one of five Tests in a cricket series between Australia and England. The match was played at Headingley Cricket Ground at Leeds from 22 to 27 July with a rest day on 25 July. Australia won the match by seven wickets to take an unassailable 3–0 series lead. In successfully chasing a target of 404, they set a new world record for the highest victorious runchase in Test history, a record lasting until 1976.
The Third Test of the 1948 Ashes series was one of five Tests in the Ashes cricket series between Australia and England. The match was played at Old Trafford in Manchester from 8–13 July 1948, with a rest day on 11 July. The match was drawn after the whole of the fourth day and the first half of the fifth day was washed out due to rain; England had the upper hand before the weather intervened. The draw maintained Australia's 2–0 lead in the series, which was established through victories in the first two Tests. As Australia were the holders of The Ashes, the draw meant that England could do no better than level the series 2–2 by winning the last two Tests, and thus Australia retained The Ashes.
The Second Test of the 1948 Ashes series was one of five Tests in the Ashes cricket series between Australia and England. The match was played at Lord's in London from 24 to 29 June, with a rest day on 27 June 1948. Australia won the match by 409 runs to take a 2–0 lead, meaning that England would need to win the remaining three matches to regain The Ashes.
The First Test of the 1948 Ashes series was one of five Tests in the Ashes cricket series between Australia and England. The match was played at Trent Bridge in Nottingham from 10 to 15 June with a rest day on 13 June 1948. Australia won the match by eight wickets to take a 1–0 series lead.
Don Bradman toured England in 1948 with an Australian cricket team that went undefeated in their 34 tour matches, including the five Ashes Tests. Bradman was the captain, one of three selectors, and overall a dominant figure of what was regarded as one of the finest teams of all time, earning the sobriquet The Invincibles.
Lindsay Hassett was the vice-captain and one of three on-tour selectors for Don Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. The Australians went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles, and resulted in them being regarded as one of the greatest teams of all time. A right-handed batsman, Hassett played in all five Tests; he was a middle-order batsman in all but the Fourth Test, when he stood in as an opener due to an injury to Sid Barnes.
Sam Loxton was a member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team, which toured England in 1948. Bradman's men went undefeated in their 34 matches; this unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.
The 1946–47 Ashes series consisted of five cricket Test matches, each of six days with five hours play each day and eight ball overs. Unlike pre-war Tests in Australia, matches were not timeless and played to a finish. It formed part of the MCC tour of Australia in 1946–47 and England played its matches outside the Tests in the name of the Marylebone Cricket Club. The England team was led by the veteran Wally Hammond and his vice-captain Norman Yardley with the strong batting line up of Len Hutton, Cyril Washbrook, Bill Edrich, Denis Compton and Joe Hardstaff, but a weak bowling attack that relied on pre-war bowlers like the 37-year-old Bill Voce of Bodyline fame and the mercurial leg-spinner Doug Wright. The two successes of the tour were the newly capped Alec Bedser, who would carry the England bowling attack until 1955, and Godfrey Evans who would be England's first choice wicketkeeper until 1959. England had drawn the Victory Tests 2–2 in 1945 and were thought to be equal in strength, but Hammond lost 3–0 to Don Bradman's Australian team which had only two other pre-war players – Lindsay Hassett and Sid Barnes, who had played 5 Tests between them – and was packed with fresh talent in the shape of Arthur Morris, Keith Miller, Ray Lindwall, Colin McCool, Ernie Toshack and Don Tallon. There were several controversial umpiring decisions which assumed greater significance as they favoured Australia and in particular Don Bradman.
| Most career wickets in Test cricket |
236 wickets (24.89) in 51 Tests
Held record from 24 July 1953 to 26 January 1963