Trevor Bailey: 23 facts about one of the greatest all-rounders produced by England

Trevor Edward Bailey, born December 3, 1923, was an England cricketer who represented his country in 61 Tests for a decade between 1949 and 1959. A right-handed batsman who also bowled medium fast, Bailey was a dour and resolutely defensive batsman who had a fitting nickname in Barnacle. An all-rounder in the true sense, he was also a superb close-in fielder. His life met a tragic end when he died in a house fire. On his 92nd birth anniversary, Chinmay Jawalekar looks at 23 facts from the life of the legend, who became the lynchpin of English County team Essex by playing over 600 First-Class matches for them.

1.  Early days: Bailey was born in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, a place where he played all his cricket. His father was a civil servant in the Admiralty. Young Bailey played cricket on the beach while reading Sherlock Holmes and Alexander Dumas in his spare time. Later, he was introduced to Charles Dickens and HG Wells as well, and his love for books would stay with him all his life.

2.  Education: Bailey learned the game at the Alleyn Court Preparatory School, Westcliff, run by Denys Wilcox, the former Essex amateur and captain. He got into the school after he won a sporting scholarship. He then attended the Dulwich College, where, aged just 14, he was selected for Dulwich’s First XI cricket team on the back of his fast bowling. He once recalled it as the most special moment of his career in an interview saying, “Seeing my name on the team sheet for the first time, that was the greatest moment in my whole career. Undoubtedly. I was sitting in class and I put my hand up to be excused. Just to see it again.”

He came top of the school’s batting and bowling averages in 1939 and 1940, became captain in 1941, and was top of the averages again in his last year at Dulwich, 1942. He also attended St John’s College, Cambridge for two years, studying English and History and graduating in 1948.

3.  Post-Dulwich: After completing his education, Bailey immediately enlisted in the Royal Marines, and he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He gained some reputation as defending counsel in court martials. Though World War II was still in progress, he received an early discharge in January 1945 to return to Alleyn Court Prep School as a schoolmaster.

4.  Essex: Bailey made his debut for Essex in 1946 as an opening bowler and opening batsman against Derbyshire at Ilford. In his maiden season, Bailey scored 318 runs for Essex, with a highest innings of 97 not out at Worcester, and took 31 wickets.

5.  Bailey the footballer: As much a cricket enthusiast, Bailey was also a keen Soccer footballerplayer. He gained his Blue(Unsure what this means, please confirm) as an outside-right in 1947, and also played against Oxford the following year. He also played at the centre-forward position for Leytonstone, the Isthmian League team. He was also a member of the Walthamstow Avenue side which won the FA Amateur Cup in 1951-2, winning the final before a Wembley crowd of 100,000. Bailey later became a director of Southend United F.C.

6.  Part of the record total: Bailey played three matches against Don Bradman’s mighty 1948 Australians. One of those matches at Southend got etched in the history forever, where Australians belted 721 runs against Essex in a day. Bailey’s performance was 2 for 128 off 21 overs.

7.  Unusually small hands:  Bailey’s accomplishments in the field become all the more creditable when his unusually small hands are taken into account. He suffered many hand injuries during his career, including a broken thumb, courtesy of Australian fast man Ray Lindwall and a badly split webbing when fielding a hot Denis Compton drive.

8.  Ashes 1953: Bailey played a crucial role in England regaining the Ashes after 27 years in the year 1953. In the Second Test at Lord’s, Bailey shared a defensive fifth wicket stand with Willie Watson, defying the Australian bowlers for over four hours to earn a draw, taking 257 minutes to score 71 runs. In the fourth Test of that series, at Headingley, Bailey again played an important part in avoiding England’s defeat and kept the hopes of regaining the Ashes alive. England started Day Five on 177 for 5 in their second innings, only 78 runs ahead. Bailey scored 38 in 262 minutes, and helped set a target of 177 for Australia in only 115 minutes. In pursuit, Australia were at a point where they needed only another 66 in 45 minutes with seven wickets in hand. But Bailey applied negative tactics by going back to his long run-up and slowed down the over rate. He also bowled a negative line wide of the leg stump, and Australia fell 30 runs short, thus ending the game in a draw. England went on to win the fifth and final Test and so regained the Ashes.

9.  Barnacle: Bailey was renowned for his slow scoring and implacable defensive batting, a characteristic that earned him the nickname of ‘Barnacle’. It was one of the many sobriquets that he earned during his career along with boring, cussed, aloof, pompous and mercenary. His excessively slow batting would often prompt the Australian crowds to boo him with the chants “Bloody Bailey, stop crawling, let’s see some cricket.”

10.  Anecdote I: Keith Miller, the legendary Australian all-rounder always groaned whenever he saw Bailey walking out to bat. He even wrote a warm foreword to Jack Bailey’s 1993 biography of his namesake. “Trevor was such a pain if you were playing against him – a damned nuisance in fact. You knew that if you could get this bloke out of the way, the chances were that you would win. All too frequently Ray Lindwall and I would find the task beyond us and it got under our skin.”

11.  Perfect ten: In August 1949, playing for Essex, Bailey took all 10 wickets in an innings against Lancashire at Clacton.

12.  The double I: In the same year, Bailey achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets for the first of the eight times in his career in County cricket.

13.   The double II: Bailey retired as one of the only nine men to record the unique double of over 20,000 runs and 2,000 wickets in the history of First-Class cricket. In 682 First-Class matches, he finished with 28,641 runs (including 28 hundreds) at 33.42 and 2,082 wickets at 23.13 apiece.

14.  Endorsements: In his era, Bailey was quite a hot pick for brand endorsements. He undertook advertising work while playing for Essex by modelling for Brylcreem, Shredded Wheat and Lucozade. He is also claimed to be the first cricketer to have a sponsored car.

15.  Bailey the scribe: After his retirement in 1967, Bailey continued to play for Westcliff-on-Sea Cricket Club for many years. He was also involved in a toy business for a while. Simultaneously, he also started his career in journalism and worked as the cricket and football correspondent of the Financial Times for 23 years. He also wrote for both The Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, and (about football) for The Observer.

16.  ‘The Boil’: Bailey also started commentating and was a regular on the BBC’s Test Match Special from 1974 to 1999, where fellow commentator Brian Johnston nicknamed him ‘The Boil’, based on the supposed Australian barrackers’ pronunciation of his name as “Boiley”.

17.  Anecdote II: Australian cricketer Jack Fingleton wrote of Bailey in his book ‘Four Chukkas To Australia’, “At five to three somebody in the magnificent Brisbane press box asked how long it had been since Bailey scored? ‘At twenty past two,’ answered George Duckworth. ‘Today or yesterday,’ yawned somebody.”

18.  Author Bailey: Apart from the regular pieces for the papers and magazines, Bailey also wrote a number of books. These include his splendid autobiography Wickets, Catches and the Odd Run along with Greatest of My Time; Sir Gary: a life of Sir Garfield Sobers, History of Cricket, From Larwood to Lillee (with Fred Trueman) and The Spinners Web and Greatest Since My Time.

19.  The office: Quite a boring man, Bailey would invariably refuse the entertainment of the evenings and retire to his room to work on match reports. His hotel bedroom was referred to as “the office” because of the typewriter, sheets of papers, and orderly set up.

20.  Bailey equals to Essex: Bailey lived all his life at Essex. For many years, Bailey was Essex and Essex was Bailey. Besides playing, he acted as club secretary from 1955 to 1967 and captain from 1961 to 1966.

21.  CBE: Bailey was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the year 1994, for services to cricket.

22.  Personal life: Bailey is survived by his wife, Greta, two sons Kim and Justin, and a daughter Sharon.

23.  Death: Bailey died aged 87 under tragic circumstances on February 10, 2011 in Essex, succumbing to injuries after a fire broke out at his home.


A.  “Trevor Bailey is one of the great allrounders in the history of English cricket. One of my abiding memories as a small boy is of Trevor Bailey and Willie Watson batting at Lord’s to save the Test match against the Australians. It was a superb effort, without which we would not have won back the Ashes in 1953… He has certainly earned his place in the history of English cricket.”

Former England prime minister, and well-known cricket fan, John Major, on watching Bailey bat.

B.  “Trevor was a great friend for well over 60 years. We played football and cricket for Cambridge University and were colleagues in the Essex side for about 15 years. He was a great all-rounder with a cast-iron temperament… one of a kind.”

Doug Insole, a close friend and Essex County Cricket Club president, says we won’t see another Trevor Bailey.

C.  “He was cricket and Essex, through and through.”

His team-mate, Keith Fletcher, on Bailey’s two enduring loves.

D.  “Trevor was such a pain if you were playing against him – a damned nuisance in fact. You knew that if you could get this bloke out of the way, the chances were that you would win. All too frequently Ray Lindwall and I would find the task beyond us and it got under our skin.”

Australia’s greatest all-rounder Keith Miller remembered his English counterpart’s obduracy in the foreword of Bailey’s 1993 biography.

E.  “He was a great lover of the game. So many people of that ilk, it becomes absolutely manifest – the game was everything to them. A great admirer of everyone who played it well – a very good man indeed all-round. I suspect a lot of younger people like myself will remember him for what he brought to the radio.

Former England captain David Gower pays tribute to Bailey, the commentator.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)