From the time that they first saw the light within ten minutes of each other at Reading on July 4, 1918, the amazing likeness has puzzled their friends. They have always weighed the same --at present 15 st. 6 lbs.--they both stand 6 ft. 3 ins., and wear clothes of precisely the same measurements, from gloves, when those of sufficient size can be obtained, to specially made boots. They have the same mannerisms - carefully practised one suspects - they speak in the same way, they write a precise facsimile, each produces a smile which is an exact "carbon copy" of the other. As they have been together almost throughout their 25 years of existence, the difficulties of recognition encountered by embarrassed scorers and pressmen - and indeed by everybody except "Mother "-- can readily estimated.
Umpires, too, have had their problems. Once, when Alec was run out in a match, Eric followed in, but the umpire refused to allow him to bat "again" until Alec was recalled from the pavilion for purposes of comparison.
From the age of six months they have lived at Woking, their father's birthplace. They played cricket at school, where few matches were arranged, and those on pitches of doubtful quality, and both their father, a local cricketer, and mother, a much keener judge and follower of the lame than most members of her sex, gave them every encouragement. At the tender age of five rears, they began cricket training under father in the back garden and continued it for years. The twins joined a team of local choirboys, and, when seven, Eric won a prize for making top score in a match in which boys twice his age participated. Their keenness on cricket prompted them to spend hours at a stretch working on a wicket, rolling, mowing and carrying water from a nearby stream.
At 14 they joined Woking CC and, to provide a distinguishing mark, Alec wore a black belt. Hereabouts, Alan Peach, the Surrey player, commenced coaching at an indoor school in the neighbourhood, and the twins put in much time here bowling to players desiring a knock. Although they never received any actual coaching, moth Alec and Eric are deeply grateful to Peach for the considerable advice they received from him during that period.
After a few games with the Young Players of Surrey, they were taken on the playing staff at The Oval in April, 1938, and Eric promptly made his mark, scoring 50, retired, and 100, retired, in the first trial. At once the twins gained places in the Second XI. Their success was immediate. Eric, firstly a batsman, hit 457 runs in 18 innings (highest score 92, not out), average 30.46, and was third in the bowling averages, taking with his spinners 22 wickets, average 19.95. Alec, bowling fast-medium in-swingers, headed the bowling figures with 42 wickets at a cost of 17.38 runs apiece, and averaged 13.50 for 12 innings in batting.
Next year for the Second XI, Eric's batting figures were: 13 innings, 316 runs, highest score 120, average 26.33. and his five wickets cost 43.40. Alec took 41 wickets. average 14.29, and hit 68 runs in six innings. That season, the last before the war, Surrey headed the Minor Counties Competition, and the Bedsers made their debut in first-class cricket against Oxford University at The Oval in June. Unfortunately rain ruined the game, and neither received much chance to show his quality.
Since the war, as members of the RAF, they have accomplished fine things. Not much has been seen of Eric in big cricket this year, but Alec has eared grand bowling figures, performing the hat-trick for an England XI against a West Indies XI at Lord's and also for the R.A.F. at Westcliff against Metropolitan Police, when he took nine wickets and held a catch. His most startling analysis was that at Hove in 1942 when, playing for RAF against Police in a Sussex Services Tournament match, he dismissed nine batsmen in 23 deliveries for three runs, eight times hitting the stumps.
The Bedsers, who saw service in France earlier in the war, have devised a scheme to overcome any suggestion of favouritism. They do not take any privilege leave during the winter, in order that they may get time for cricket during the summer . months.
For a time, the war simplified one thing. Eric, promoted to Flight-Sergeant some 12 months ago, wore a crown over his three stripes, so that it became possible, when they were in uniform, to distinguish which twin was which. Now Alec has also become a Flight-Sergeant, and the exact similarity is restored.