Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Sir Alec Bedser 1918-2010

By Shane Thomas

As I type I feel a wave of guilt sweeping over me. I actually debated with myself whether or not to post about the recent passing of Sir Alec Bedser. Not only was no debate necessary but I should never have waited three days after the announcement of his death.

Alec Bedser is rightly regarded as one of England's finest ever seam bowlers. The bulk of his England career occurred in the era of the Australian team led by Sir Don Bradman. This didn't stop him taking 29 wickets in the 1953 Ashes series, which was a major factor in England regaining the coveted urn.

Bedser's very name evokes a generation long gone in the world of cricket. Growing up, he was a player I had always heard of but knew little of the type of player he was. In an era when cricket selectors crave seam bowlers who can bowl with pace and bounce, hitting speeds of 90mph+, Bedser's focus was on control and accuracy. The modern day player he often compared himself to was Matthew Hoggard.

However, Hoggard never brought a brand-new delivery to the game. For all intents and purposes, Bedser invented the leg-cutter. A glorified fast leg-break, he once bowled the great Bradman for a duck with it. Bradman proclaimed it as the best delivery he ever faced. Bedser went on to dismiss the great man five more times, more than any bowler in the history of the game.

Bedser's death is more saddening than an outright tragedy. He also served as England's chairman of selectors for many years and lived to the age of 91, which is decent going by anyone's standards.

To sum up the understated nature of Bedser's era, I'll leave the final word to his mother. In 1946, he played for England in India and took eleven wickets against them. The press rang his mother back home for a reaction. When asking what she thought about her son taking eleven wickets, her reply was, "Well isn't that what he's supposed to do as a bowler?"

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