Sir Alec Bedser, 1918-2010 April 4, 2010

Sir Alec Bedser dies aged 91

Cricinfo staff

Sir Alec Bedser, the Surrey and England fast bowler who Don Bradman said "worried me more than any other Englishman," died on Sunday evening at the age of 91.

Regarded as one of finest paceman to play the game, Bedser's playing career spanned 1939-1960 during which time he took 1,924 first-class wickets at 20.41 including 236 for England in 51 Tests. He then became chairman of selectors from 1969 to 1981 and also managed two England tours. In 1996 he was knighted for his services to cricket.

A powerfully-built, naggingly accurate, medium-fast bowler, with a classical action off a short run, Bedser's stock ball was the inswinger, his most dangerous the legcutter which fizzed off the pitch like a fast legbreak. Although his career began in 1939 he played just two matches without taking a wicket before the Second World War meant it was seven years before his next match.

An ever-present in the Surrey side from the beginning of the 1946 season, he was immediately picked by England and made his Test debut at the age of 28 in just his 13th first-class match. He began with 11 wickets in each of his first two Tests, against India, and until 1954 he largely carried England's attack almost single handed. He starred in England's successful 1953 Ashes campaign, taking 39 wickets at 17 in the five Tests, including career-best figures of 14 for 99 at Trent Bridge.

The problems he caused Bradman, who he dismissed six times, including twice for a duck, was a testament of Bedser's skill and until his death he was believed to be the last man alive to have dismissed Bradman. "It was always great to get him out," Bedser told Cricinfo during an interview in 2008. "I practised the legbreaks to work him out and sometimes I was successful.

"Don was very kind. He gave me a lot of encouragement when I first went to Australia, and over the years we became good friends. When I asked him about my bowling after that first season against Australia, he said, 'You might, perhaps, pitch the ball up a bit more, but if you can bowl balls like you bowled me at Adelaide, you don't have to worry about anything else. Just get on and do that.'"

At a time when bowler's workloads are constantly being discussed - and players are rested from international cricket - it is worth recalling that Bedser bowled more than 15,000 overs for Surrey and England. "Our fitness came out of all the hard work we did when we were young," he said during the same interview two years ago. "In my entire Test career I left the field only once. It was at Adelaide and the temperature was around a hundred. I went out but came back and bowled."

Bedser was England's oldest surviving cricketer - a position he assumed late last year when Arthur McIntyre died - and that honour now passes to Nottinghamshire batsman Reg Simpson. Alec's twin brother, Eric, died in 2006 aged 87.

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  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    Caught the Bedser twins on the telly a few months ago. It was the British Anitques Roadshow that is shown here in the US on PBS. It was a re-run from a while back. They were the embodiment of "cricketer" through their demeanor and conversation. When asked what they remembered the most of their playing days. Rather then highlight a personal achievement or record, they mentioned it was the friendships they made through the game. A class act!

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2010, 12:45 GMT


  • Sidhanta on April 5, 2010, 11:25 GMT


  • Chris on April 5, 2010, 10:22 GMT

    It's something of a tribute to the man that his name never slipped from my mother's memory. In the 1980s there was an ice hockey goalie who played for Toronto that Mummy was constantly calling Bedser. The poor man's name was Allan Bester, but it seems 'Alec Bedser' was the only name she knew.

  • Bill on April 5, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    He was one of the greatest of the great.

  • Cricinfouser on April 5, 2010, 8:38 GMT

    How sad may his soul rest in peace

  • Mohammed on April 5, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    Sir Alec Bedser was icon of his time. Certainly Cricket will miss a legend like him. But his indomitable spirit of a fast bowler, will keep him alive for many more days to come.

  • Colin on April 5, 2010, 8:10 GMT

    A true professional, no nonsense cricketer from the old school who will be sadly missed.

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2010, 7:48 GMT

    Very tragic and sad news, never witnessed him bowling but his statistics indicate what a legend he was. Perhaps the finest English medium-fast bowler they've ever produced despite a man from a earlier era; a certain George Lohmann. But also to dismiss the Don six times is quite incredible, RIP Sir Alec.

  • Deon on April 5, 2010, 7:23 GMT

    Sir Alec bowled 312 balls per Test match. He operated from a 12-15 yard run-up. Wes Hall, who started his career at around the time Sir Alec ended his, operated from a 35-40 yard run-up. He averaged 217 balls per match. Both men ended with similar career stats, albeit that Sir Alex had a better economy rate, and Hall a better strike rate. Today there is not even one high-quality specialist medium pacer in Test cricket. The days of Bedser, Sydney Barnes and Maurice Tate seems to be long gone. I wonder whether anyone could revive the lost art of medium pace.

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