Alec Bedser at 90: Timeline

From Surrey pro to knight of the realm

Martin Williamson

April 10, 2010

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Alec Bedser sits alongside John Bradman, the Don's son, during the 1946-47 tour © Getty Images
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1918 Alec Bedser is born on July 14, seven minutes after brother Eric. His mother is unaware she is carrying twins.

1938 Spotted in the nets at Woking CC, the twins accept an offer to join the Surrey staff as professionals, earning £2 a week in the summer and £1 in the winter.

1939 Bedser makes his Surrey debut, alongside his brother, playing two matches against the universities without taking a wicket. They are part of the Surrey 2nd XI that wins the Minor Counties Championship.

1943 On leave from the RAF, Bedser attracts attention as he takes 6 for 27, including a hat-trick, against a West Indies XI at Lord's. But the brothers are posted abroad at the end of the year, curtailing any chances of playing more.

1946 In his first full season, Bedser takes 128 wickets at 20.13. He makes his Test debut against India in his 13th first-class game, taking 7 for 49 and 4 for 96 at Lord's.

1946-47 He struggles in Australia, taking 16 wickets at 54.75 as England are well beaten. His reputation as a workhorse is established as he bowls 246 eight-ball overs in the series. He also unveils his legcutter after two years of practice. In the fifth Test he bowls Don Bradman for 0 with a ball Bradman described as the best that ever took his wicket.

1947 Named one of Wisden's five Cricketers of the Year.

1948 Another series on the losing side against Australia, playing in all five Tests for 18 wickets in a 0-4 series defeat.

1950 Although he is England's premier strike bowler, he struggles to make a major impact and his five-for against West Indies at Nottingham is only his third in four seasons. In 20 Tests since his stunning debut series, his 65 wickets have cost more than 40 each. Surrey tie the Championship with Lancashire

1950-51 Bedser is the spearhead in a young side, and despite another Ashes drubbing, his reputation is made as he takes 30 wickets at 16.06.

1951 His good form continues against South Africa as he grabs 30 wickets at 17.23.


Alec and Eric Bedser at an in-store signing session © Getty Images
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1952 A poor Indian side are swept away, Bedser adding 20 more cheap wickets to his tally. Surrey, under Stuart Surridge, win the first of their seven consecutive Championship titles.

1953 Bedser's annus mirabilis: he breaks the record for most wickets in an Anglo-Australian series, his 39 at 17.48 a major part in England regaining the Ashes for the first time in 19 years. "If I had have broken down then [Hutton] would have been lost," Bedser recalled with no false modesty. "There was no one else." In the first Test at Nottingham he passes SF Barnes' English record of 189 Test wickets; at Headingley he becomes the leading wicket-taker of all time, passing Clarrie Grimmett's 216. He finishes the summer with 162 wickets at 16.67, his best return and in his benefit year.

1954-55 His third tour of Australia is wrecked as he contracts shingles - which is not diagnosed until after the first Test where he takes 1 for 131. He is dropped in favour of Frank Tyson, England come from behind to win the series, and Bedser is unable to regain his place.

1955 His final Test, taking four wickets as England lose to South Africa. He finishes with 236 wickets at 24.39 in 51 Tests, a record which remains until Fred Trueman passes it in 1963.

1957 Bedser takes 131 wickets, the 11th and final time he passes 100 in a season.

1960 Bedser bows out of the game, finishing with 5 for 25 as Surrey draw with Glamorgan at a deserted Oval.

1962 Bedser is appointed a selector, a position that he holds for 23 years, including 12 as chairman.


Bedser leaves the field after his final first-class appearance © Getty Images
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1962-63 Manages the England tour of Australia under Ted Dexter.

1969 Appointed chairman of selectors.

1974-75 Acts as manager on MCC tour of Australia for the second time.

1976 Is barred from adjudicating in Benson & Hedges Cup matches after reportedly saying of one-day cricket that he never watches it: "If you want cricket like that, you might as well watch baseball."

1981 Controversially sacks Ian Botham minutes after the drawn Test at Lord's. He is replaced as chairman of selectors by Peter May at the end of the summer.

1986 Retires as a selector.

1987 Becomes president of Surrey.

1996 Is knighted for his services to cricket.

2009 Becomes English cricket's oldest-surviving player after death of Arthur McIntyre.

2010 Dies on April 5 aged 91.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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