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Full name Charlie Bray
Born April 6, 1898, Portslade, Brighton, Sussex
Died September 12, 1993, Bedford (aged 95 years 159 days)
Major teams Essex
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm medium
Charles Bray, who died in a nursing home on Sept 12 at the age of 95, captained Essex in the 1930s and was an independently-minded journalist for most of his working life. Born on April 6, 1898 in Brighton, he was educated at Luton Modern School and climbed the first rungs of journalism in Bradford and Belfast. In 1922 he became London editor of the Belfast Northern Whig, and in 1935 he began a 30-year association with the Daily Herald. His club cricket was played for Southend, and he made his Essex debut as an amateur in 1927. As a middle-order bats man he played in 95 matches over the next 11 years, and led the county spasmodically when J. W. H. T. Douglas and then H. M. Morris were unavailable. His 3474 runs (24.81) included five centuries, three of them in 1927, including the highest, 129, against the New Zealanders at Southend. In 1932, when he captained Essex for most of the summer, Bray was a central figure in the controversy when the Leyton scoreboard showed only 554 when Herbert Sutcliffe (313) gave his wicket away believing that 555 had been made for Yorkshire's first wicket, one run beyond the existing world first-wicket record (Brown and Tunnicliffe). In his colourful little Essex CCC history (Convoy, 1950) Bray recalled that the scorers sought his permission to add a no-ball which the umpires claimed had not been registered. He wrote that "it would be cruel luck if they were deprived of the honour of breaking the record owing to a mistake on the part of our scoreboard. If the umpires said a no-ball had been signalled and had not been recorded, it was OK with me." Umpire E. J. 'Tiger' Smith later insisted he had called a no-ball first ball of the second morning : "If they'd given me a thousand quid I wouldn't have fiddled it". It seems that Charlie McGahey, the Essex scorer, was unprepared, perhaps getting his first bottle of ale for the day or visiting the gents. As Essex had just come back from The Oval, where Hobbs and Gregory had taken Surrey to victory with an unbroken stand of 232, they fielded out to 787 runs without gaining a wicket within two and a half days. His duties as a war correspondent during the Second World War earned Bray a 'mentioned in dispatches', and his wife Marjory was in MI6. Charles Bray was chairman of the Cricket Writers Club in 1953, and after his retirement from the Herald he wrote on cricket and rugby as a freelance for the Sun. He and his wife retired to Spain, but returned to England some years later.
Former Daily Express cricket-writer Crawford White remembered Bray as a 'strong' writer: "He knew and loved his cricket, and when he made up his mind, nobody could make him change it. We hunted as a pair for a while, and were probably the forerunners of the interviewreporters of today. He could knock it off quickly when it was time to file. We travelled a lot together - but he got up too early! He was a good man with the frying-pan, especially good with a steak diane."
David Frith, Wisden Cricket Monthly
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