Eric Bedser 1918-2006 May 24, 2006

Eric Bedser dies aged 87



Inseparable: Eric (left) and Alec Bedser in 1951 © The Cricketer
Eric Bedser, whose cricket ability was overshadowed by the achievements of his twin, Alec, has died at the age of 87. He had been in poor health for some time.

Eric was identical in almost every way to Alec - except in bowling style. The story goes that they were both originally strapping medium-pacers, but realised they wouldn't both be able to play for Surrey like that. So they tossed a coin, Alec won, and Eric turned to offspin and worked more on his batting.

He became a very handy county allrounder, who was probably unlucky not to win a Test cap or two. Eric topped 1000 runs in a season six times, and managed over 800 wickets as well, even though he was often competing to get on with Jim Laker and Tony Lock during Surrey's 1950s' heyday.

But he played a vital role in Surrey's success. He neared the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in 1956, scoring 804 runs and taking 92 wickets, but was thwarted by bad weather. Stuart Surridge, Surrey's captain at the time said, "Without Eric in the side, Surrey might not have retained the title."

The Bedsers made their first-class debuts in the same match in June 1939, and their careers ran alongside each other, although Eric carried on for one season longer before retiring in 1961. Throughout their lives, the brothers were virtually inseparable. In the war, both were offered promotion but it would have meant them being separated. So Alec took it, Eric declined it, and they remained together - but shared the pay rise!

In retirement they remained side-by-side and identically dressed, forging a successful business career (their stationery firm Straker Bedser was eventually taken over by Rymans). Eric accompanied Alec on all his tours, and they were still, in their eighties, ever-present - and ever-ready to comment - on big cricket occasions. He was also made president of the county in 1990.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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