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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Alec who was too smart for the Don

Alec who was too smart for the Don

April 06, 2010 16:54 IST

Alec BedserAlec Bedser, who died aged 91 on Sunday, was once hailed by the great Australian batsman Don Bradman as the finest bowler he had faced of his type.

The former England and Surrey seamer enjoyed a glittering playing career that spanned 21 years and brought 236 wickets in 51 Test matches.

Bedser dismissed Bradman six times, more than any other player and was the last man alive to claim the wicket of the formidable Australian, who ended his career with a remarkable average of 99.94.

"He was an incredibly accurate medium pace bowler with great control and I know he was extremely proud of the great Sir Don Bradman saying he was the finest bowler of his type that he played against," former Surrey team mate and England batsman Mickey Stewart said on the county cricket club's website (www.britoval.com).

Bedser, who made his England debut in 1946 against India, made an instant impression in international cricket, taking 11 wickets in each of his first two Tests.

He excelled in the Ashes making his highest test score of 79 in the 1948 series and recorded his best bowling figures of 7-44 against Australia five years later.

A bowler of consistently accurate medium-fast deliveries, Bedser became the first Englishman to reach 200 Test wickets. His career tally of 236 leaves him seventh on England's all-time list of test wicket takers, topped by Ian Botham with 383.

In first class cricket, he won eight County Championship titles with Surrey and took 1,924 wickets at an average of 20.41.

Bedser, who was knighted in 1997, had a no-nonsense approach to the game and was known to be unimpressed by many aspects of modern cricket.

"Alec was the typical traditional English professional cricketer and never quite understood all the fuss that goes on about the game today - both on and off the field," Stewart said.

"When he took his 11 wickets against India in 1946, the press rang at home to speak to his mother for her reaction. Her reply was: 'Well, isn't that what he's supposed to do as a bowler?'"

CHAIRMAN OF SELECTORS

He went on to become a pivotal figure off the field as an England selector for a record 23 years following his retirement as a player, presiding as chairman between 1969 and 1981.

He was chairman when Botham's brief tenure as England captain came to an end in 1981 following a disappointing start to the Ashes series that year.

While Botham was later critical of the manner in which he was ousted from his post the move paid dividends.

England's talismanic all-rounder, freed from the shackles of leadership, helped England to victory in a series that became known as "Botham's Ashes."

Bedser was inseparable from his twin Eric, who died in 2006 and represented Surrey alongside his brother for two decades.

They spent their lives together both on and off the pitch, living for more than 50 years in a house built with their father and winning seven consecutive County Championship titles at Surrey between 1952 and 1958.

"Our absolute and complete affinity is hard to explain," Alec once said. "But it is true and very real to us - so much so that as long as I can remember we have never been happy apart."

Paul Sheldon, chief executive of Surrey County Cricket Club added: "Along with his twin brother Eric, he was one of the most recognisable characters in cricket across the globe.

"In our sadness at the passing of one of the worlds greatest cricketers, we can also celebrate the end of an innings which brought pleasure to millions -- and who was respected by all who were privileged to have known him."

Photograph: Reuters

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