February 11, 2011

Obituaries

A true gentleman of the game

Akhila Ranganna

Former England allrounder Trevor Bailey died in a fire in his home on Thursday at the age of 87. The obituary in BBC describes Bailey as one of England's most outstanding post war allrounders, who later went on to become an invaluable member of the commentary team on the BBC's Test Match Special.

He followed his own line, both on and off the pitch. Most remarkable were his astonishingly contemplative performances at the crease during times of crisis for the national team.

David Foot in the Guardian describes Bailey as dogged but accomplished and hails him as one of English cricket's greatest allrounders.

Behind that phlegmatic exterior, though, lurked a measure of mischief, often based on his willingness to confront the game's laws with as much determination as legally permissible, and reinforced by his obsessive desire to win.

And again in the Guardian, Andy Bull in the SportBlog writes that Bailey's achievements for England and Essex and his off-the-field efforts meant he was so much more than the 'Barnacle' that was his nickname

Lawrence Booth in the Daily Mail writes that Trevor Bailey will always be remembered as a man steeped in cricket; a dry but but gentlemanly reminder of another age.

Known as Barnacle for his refusal to take risks at the crease - his 68 in 458 minutes at Brisbane in 1958 has pride of place in Wisden's table of 'slowest individual batting' - he could be equally cautious in the commentary box. When India's Kapil Dev hit three successive sixes off England spinner Eddie Hemmings at Lord's in 1990, his side were left needing six more runs to avoid the follow-on. With one ball left in the over and the No 11 at the other end, Bailey suggested: 'I'd take the single.' His colleagues chuckled and Kapil hit Hemmings for another six.

In the obituary in the Independent David Firth writes that there never was a batsman more patient, determined and obstinate than Bailey.

And in the same newspaper, David Lloyd writes that while there was a great deal more to Bailey's game than obdurate, they-shall-not-pass batting, the man himself was happy to go along with the image – even to the extent that his autobiography was entitled Wickets, Catches and the Odd Run.

As for the last word on Bailey's life, that should come from the man himself. "What I failed to realise early enough, except in the sporting field, was that nothing which is really worth having can be acquired without hard work," he wrote in his book. "Despite this weakness I can claim that I have been remarkably successful in my pursuit of happiness."

Huw Turbervill in the Daily Telegraph writes that while a defiant England retained the Ashes in Australia this winter, if there was one man who knew all about defiance, it was Bailey.

Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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