Alec Bedser : biography
Sir Alec Victor Bedser CBE (4 July 1918 – 4 April 2010) was a professional English cricketer. He was the chairman of selectors for the English national cricket team, and the president of Surrey County Cricket Club. He is widely regarded as one of the best English cricketers of the 20th century.
He was an outstanding right-arm medium-fast bowler for Surrey and England in a first-class playing career that spanned twenty-one years. He took 1924 first-class wickets in 485 matches. In 51 Test matches for England he took 236 wickets.
Early life and career
Bedser was born a few minutes after his identical twin brother Eric (1918–2006) in Reading, Berkshire, where his father was stationed with the Royal Air Force. Within six months the family moved to Horsell, Surrey, where, at the age of seven, the brothers played their first organised cricket. Over the next decade they played together for Monument Hill School and Woking Cricket Club. After joining a local firm of solicitors, the twins 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. A year later they made their first-class débuts for the county. Their careers were interrupted in 1939, when they joined the RAF to serve in World War II: they saw action at Dunkirk and later served in North Africa, Italy and Austria, both narrowly escaping from being shot in France. They were demobilised in 1946.
After retiring from playing cricket in 1960, Bedser served as a national team selector for twenty-three years and was chairman of selectors from 1969 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. 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 - 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 1996. 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.
Neither Alec nor his brother ever married. They lived together in Woking until Eric's death in 2006. Sir Alec Bedser died in hospital in Woking on 4 April 2010 after a short illness. Among those to pay tribute to the more famous of the two brothers was former Prime Minister and well-known cricket lover 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.
Outside of cricket, Bedser was a founding member of the right-wing pressure group The Freedom Association during the 1970s.
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.p16, Kay, Ashes to Hassett, A review of the M.C.C. tour of Australia, 1950-51, John Sherratt & Son, 1951
- John Kay
Alec Bedser's performances during war-time cricket matches were impressive: in games for the British 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.
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