Bill Edrich

Last updated

Bill Edrich
Bill Edrich 1937.jpg
Edrich in 1937
Personal information
Full nameWilliam John Edrich
Born(1916-03-26)26 March 1916
Lingwood, Norfolk, England
Died24 April 1986(1986-04-24) (aged 70)
Whitehill Court, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England
BowlingRight-arm off-break
Right-arm fast-medium
Role Batsman
Relations Brian Edrich (brother)
Eric Edrich (brother)
Geoff Edrich (brother)
John Edrich (cousin)
Justin Edrich (son)
International information
National side
Test debut(cap  300)10 June 1938 v  Australia
Last Test28 January 1955 v  Australia
Domestic team information
1932–1936 Norfolk
1934–1936 Minor Counties
1934–1958 MCC
1937–1958 Middlesex
Career statistics
Competition Test FC LA
Runs scored2,44036,96548
Batting average 40.0042.3912.00
Top score219* 267* 36
Balls bowled3,23432,95070
Wickets 414792
Bowling average 41.2933.3138.00
5 wickets in innings 0110
10 wickets in match030
Best bowling4/687/482/76
Catches/stumpings 39/–527/11/–
Source: CricketArchive, 17 September 2009

William John Edrich DFC (26 March 1916 – 24 April 1986) was a first-class cricketer who played for Middlesex, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), Norfolk and England. [1]


Edrich's three brothers, Brian, Eric and Geoff, and also his cousin, John, all played first-class cricket. Locally in Norfolk the Edriches were able to raise a full team of eleven. In 1938 a team composed entirely of Edriches beat Norfolk in a one-day match. [2]

Life and career

Born in Lingwood, Norfolk, Bill Edrich was an attacking right-handed batsman and right-arm fast bowler. [1] Playing first for Norfolk in the Minor Counties at the age of 16, he qualified for Middlesex in 1937 and was an instant success, scoring more than 2,000 runs in his first full season. The following year, 1938, he scored 1,000 runs before the end of May and made the first of 39 Test match appearances, though with little success. In fact, Edrich achieved almost nothing in Tests until the final "Timeless Test" of the 1938–39 tour to South Africa at Durban, where his 219 enabled England to reach 654 for five wickets, at which point the Test was left drawn to enable the tourists to catch their ship home. [1]

Having finally achieved Test match success, Edrich was promptly dropped for the 1939 series against the West Indians. Even so, he was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in the 1940 edition of Wisden. Edrich played association football as an amateur for Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur during the 1930s. [1]

At the outbreak of war Edrich joined the Royal Air Force, in which he attained the rank of Squadron Leader, operating as a pilot for RAF Bomber Command. On 12 August 1941 he participated in a low-level daylight attack by Bristol Blenheim bombers against power stations in the Cologne area, described by The Daily Telegraph as "the RAF's most audacious and dangerous low-level bombing raid". Of the 54 Blenheims sent on the mission, twelve were shot down. For his part in the war he was awarded the DFC. [3] [4] [5] He had "an immense relief that he survived" the war and as a result loved to party and lived for the day. [1] [6] [7]

When cricket resumed after the Second World War, he quickly became a regular in the England team, batting at No. 3 and sometimes opening the bowling. He scored centuries against Australia in the 1946–47 Ashes series, two against the South Africans in 1947, another against Australia in 1948 and a final one against New Zealand in 1949. A gutsy batsman he was "almost indifferent to his own safety. No bowler is too fast to hook; no score too large to defy challenge" and was badly bruised standing up to the bouncers of Lindwall and Miller in 1946–47 and 1948. [6]

The postwar years were Edrich's heyday and in 1947 he broke Tom Hayward's record, scoring 3,539 runs in the season and not being much overshadowed by Denis Compton, who scored 3,816. Compton's and Edrich's aggregates remain the highest ever in an English cricket season, and with the reduction in the number of first-class matches seem likely never to be overtaken. In addition to his runs, Edrich also took 67 wickets in the same season.

Bill Edrich's career performance graph. Bill Edrich graph.png
Bill Edrich's career performance graph.

Edrich's Test career continued until The Ashes tour of 1954–55, but he played less regularly after 1950, when he appeared to have little answer to the West Indian spinners Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine. When England retained the Ashes at Adelaide in 1954–55 the team consumed over 56 bottles of champagne and Edrich – the life and soul of any party – climbed the marble pillar in the lounge of Glenelg's Pier Hotel and sang "Ginger". [6]

All told, Edrich played in 571 first-class matches between 1934 and 1958, scoring 36,985 runs, with a highest score of 267 not out. His run total puts him 29th on the all-time lists. He scored 2,440 runs for England in his 39 Test matches, with the 219 not out at Durban his best. [1] A professional before the Second World War, he turned amateur afterwards and captained Middlesex jointly with Compton in 1951 and 1952, continuing in sole charge from 1953 to 1957. After retiring from Middlesex, he returned to Norfolk and played Minor County cricket until he was 56, captaining the county until 1971. [1]

A famously convivial man, Edrich was married five times and had two sons, Jasper and Justin. He died following a fall at his Chesham, Buckinghamshire home on 24 April 1986, aged 70. The MCC named the twin stands at the Nursery End at Lord's Cricket Ground, in his and Denis Compton's honour. Cricket writer, Colin Bateman, noted, "it is a dull, practical structure which does little justice to their mercurial talents and indomitable spirits". [1]


Books by Bill Edrich

Books about Bill Edrich

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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.

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Don Tallon with the Australian cricket team in England in 1948

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Ernie Toshack with the Australian cricket team in England in 1948 Australian cricketers role in a pivotal test match series in 1948

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Hammond's ill-equipped army returned to England beaten, yet deserving of the highest honours for their sportsmanship, their ability to smile in the face of certain disaster and also for their success in gaining the objective of their invasion - the spreading of cricket goodwill from the Homeland to a Dominion.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Colin Bateman (1993). If The Cap Fits. Tony Williams Publications. pp.  58–59. ISBN   1-869833-21-X.
  2. Bill Edrich, Cricket Heritage, Stanley Paul, London, 1948, pp. 76-77.
  3. "Fields of glory." Archived 16 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Observer , 6 November 2005.
  4. "Obituary of Wing Commander Tom Baker." The Daily Telegraph , 10 April 2006.
  5. David Frith (1987) Pageant of Cricket, The Macmillan Company of Australia. p. 365. ISBN   0333451775.
  6. 1 2 3 Frank Tyson (2004) In the Eye of the Typhoon. Parrs Wood Press. pp. 187–188. ISBN   1903158575.
  7. Peter Arnold (1985) The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Cricket. W. H. Smith. p. 20. ISBN   0671089609.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Walter Robins
Middlesex County Cricket Captain
(jointly with Denis Compton 1951–2)
Succeeded by
John Warr