Trevor Bailey Biography
Bailey is remembered as a dour, stonewalling batsman with the fitting nickname Barnacle. However, there was much more to his cricket, including an array of strokes seldom unveiled, incisive fast-medium bowling and superb close to the wicket catching. What is often overlooked is Bailey’s immense value as an all-rounder, the best in England between the Golden Age of George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes and the maverick genius of Ian Botham.
“His forward defence — head over the ball, the blade immaculately straight — became, like Churchill’s victory sign, a symbol of defiance. From this one stroke could be told the character of the man. It was resolute and impenitent,” wrote John Woodcock. The image of the ultra-defensive batsman that sticks to our minds was born during the famous Ashes series contested in the Coronation Year of 1953. At Lord’s and Headingley Bailey’s dour batting saved the Tests for England, with two knocks that established him as a limpet. And when Australia needed quick runs, he bowled down the leg side, using questionable tactics, but earned a draw.
But he was much more than a defensive batsman and a negative bowler. Bailey could be an attractive strokeplayer, and a combative player of fast bowling who opened the innings against Neil Adcock and Peter Heine with success. With the ball, he was a canny operator and could bowl some seriously fast stuff. On a docile Kingston wicket in 1954, he opened the bowling – a task he was rarely called upon to perform – and took 7 for 34 while demolishing West Indies for 139. Trueman, who was his partner with the new ball in the innings, got two scalps. Then there was Johannesburg in late 1956, with a buoyant South Africa requiring 204 to win in the fourth innings. By the end of the day Bailey had taken four and the hosts were reeling at 40 for 7. They managed to get to 72, with the Essex all-rounder taking 5 for 20 from 15.4 eight ball overs. And finally the superb Lord’s outing against West Indies in 1957, when he demolished a line-up of Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes, Rohan Kanhai and Garry Sobers with 11 wickets for 98 in the match.
According to the retrospectively calculated ICC Rankings, Bailey was the best all-rounder of the world for most of his career. As a bowler we find him as high as number eight in 1957. Additionally Bailey was a fantastic fielder, especially close in, with the ability to snap up match-changing blinders.
During his playing days, Bailey advertised Brylcreem, Lucozade and Shredded Wheat, and also claimed to be the first cricketer to have a sponsored car. After retirement, he metamorphosed into a successful and insightful writer and commentator on the game.