England mourns Trevor Bailey's death

London, February 11, 2011

English cricket was in mourning after Trevor Bailey, one of its “great servants”, died in a house fire aged 87 at his home on Thursday.

An all-rounder, Bailey was a mainstay of the England team in the years after the Second World War and played 61 Tests in a decade-long international career.

Nicknamed ‘Barnacle’ for his ability to play defensive innings when England were in trouble, his most famous knock came in the Lord’s Test against Australia in 1953, when he batted for four-and-a-half hours to help stave off a defeat and secure a draw — a result that helped England regain the Ashes.

Firefighters said they had rescued Bailey’s wife Greta from the blaze in Westcliff, Essex. Former British Prime Minister John Major, a lifelong cricket fan, said: “Trevor Bailey is one of the great all-rounders 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,” he said.

Bailey also enjoyed a 21-year career with Essex before finding success as a cricket writer and broadcaster, notably as a pillar of BBC Radio’s Test Match Special (TMS) programme.

His death was announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), whose chief executive, David Collier, saluted Bailey’s passion for the game.

“It was a passion that he was able to communicate to millions via radio as a member of the TMS commentary team and there will be very many cricket supporters in this country who will be mourning his loss in such tragic circumstances.”

Current TMS commentator and former England fast bowler Jonathan Agnew summed up Bailey by writing on Twitter: “Dogged batsman, aggressive bowler. Intelligent cricketer. Wonderfully concise pundit. Great sense of humour.”

Essex president Doug Insole, a former county colleague of Bailey and a friend for over 60 years, said: “In the England team in the 1950s Trevor was a tower of strength – a great all-rounder with a cast iron temperament. He was one of a kind and a very sad loss to his many friends.”

Bailey was good enough to open the bowling at Test level while his adaptability with the bat saw him go in anywhere from No 1 to No 7.

Australia great Richie Benaud, an opponent in the 1950s, wrote of Bailey he was a “fine team man and one of the best all-rounders to play for England”.

Bailey completed the then rare feat of making 2,000 Test runs and 100 wickets in Tests.

He scored 2,290 Test runs at an average of 29.74, with a best of 134 not out against New Zealand at Christchurch in 1951, his lone century, and 10 fifties, while Bailey’s right-arm fast medium bowling yielded 132 wickets at 29.21.

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