Obituary: Trevor Bailey

image captionStubborn at the crease and spirited at the microphone

One of England's most outstanding post war all-rounders, Trevor Bailey later proved an invaluable member of the commentary team on the BBC's Test Match Special.

He followed his own line, both on and off the pitch. Most remarkable were his astonishingly contemplative performances at the crease during times of crisis for the national team.

His stubborn refusal to be out normally brought more pleasure to the team than to the spectators.

Trevor Bailey was born on 3 Dec 1923 in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex.

He attended a local school before going to Dulwich College, where he was selected for the 1st XI at the tender age of 14.

Frustrating Australia

He then went up to Cambridge, where he was awarded a Double Blue for cricket and football.

From there it was on to county cricket for Essex, where he served variously as player, captain or secretary for more than 20 years.

He made his Test debut against New Zealand at Headingley in 1949.

Bailey's steady bowling and defiant batting drove his opponents to distraction and some fans to sleep. But what he called his sheer bloody mindedness sometimes paid rich dividends.

image captionBailey at the crease in 1953 against Australia

On a June afternoon in 1953, after the papers had written off the England side against Australia at Lord's, Bailey spearheaded a rearguard action with Willie Watson, and batted for most of the last day of the Test.

Bailey scored 71 runs in four-and-a-half hours, the Test was saved, and the Ashes were soon after returned to English soil.

Faced with this obdurate defensive technique and foiled of victory, an outraged Australian press dubbed Bailey "the Barnacle".

Slowest-ever half-century

If Bailey was wielding a magic wand that afternoon, five years later he was accused of playing with a barndoor dead-bat.

In Brisbane, again against Australia, the steadfast scorer notched up what remains the slowest half-century in the whole Test match canon.

Bailey took an interminable 357 minutes to reach his 50.

The team fell apart, the tour disintegrated, and the Ashes were lost by what had been, on paper, a strong England side.

Bailey's actions at the crease were sometimes seen as created out of stubbornness.

image captionBailey bowling for Essex

His address at Westcliff-on-Sea was just called The Drive, though some suggested that after the laborious afternoon in 1958, it should be renamed the forward defensive.

Along with his distinctive batting technique, Bailey was a fast-medium bowler and proved a brilliant fielder. In one Test against the West Indies during the 1953/54 season, he took seven wickets for 34 runs.

He turned his love and knowledge of the game into a successful career on the BBC's Test Match Special commentary team.

With his strong opinions, always clearly expressed, his colleague, Brian Johnston, nicknamed him "The Boil," a play on the Australian pronunciation of his name.

He struck up a good working relationship with fellow commentator Fred Trueman.

This friendship was originally forged at the crease, when Bailey batted for Essex against Yorkshire in the late 1960s.

Knocked over by a Trueman bouncer, Bailey was still on the ground when the contrite Yorkshireman rushed up.

"Sorry, Trev, old son," he bellowed, "there are many more I'd rather have hit."

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