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Monday, 12 April 2010






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Sir Alec Bedser was a gentle giant

It was sad to hear about the passing away of Sir Alec Bedser at the age of 91 last week after a brief illness.

Sir Alec was easily the best seam and swing bowler produced by England. In the 1950s and 60s he was the king of swing and not many batsmen wanted to face him when he had the red cherry in his hand.

The writer rubbernecking to speak to Sir Alec. The wall hanging in his office in the back ground shows Sir Alec being introduced to the Queen during a Test match (below) Sir Alec putting me at ease - he sitting on a chair and me on his table. Otherwise I would have suffered a stiff neck continuing to speak to him

Standing well over six feet and with a lovely run up and side on action, he was always the tormentor of opposing batsmen and it is said that even the great Sir Donald Bradman failed to read his seam and swing, because he had the knack of moving it either way late.

He was at his best under the captaincy of Sir Leonard Hutton and bagged a harvest of wickets. Playing at home or abroad, he had what could be described as the God given gift to bowl on any wickets and in any conditions.

At his best

Bedser played in Sri Lanka too and in those days the games in Sri Lanka being whistle stop ones, local cricket fans did not have the fortune of seeing him at his best. He played in many trophy winning teams for Surrey capturing bags full of wickets every season and continued in the same vein for England. Bedser was one of the fittest bowlers going at that time. He attributed his supreme fitness to digging earth from the age of 12. A little known fact is that he and his brother Eric escaped being shot during the Second World War in France.

I had the good fortune of meeting the great man when as Sports Editor in Chief of the Times Group I was the guest of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Information and visited Britain in 1976 after a Diploma Course in Journalism at the International Institute for Journalism in West Berlin.


When I was introduced to Alec in his company the Burton Group, at Oxford Street, in London, I was amazed to meet such a huge man nearing something like seven feet and small me being only 5 feet 2 inches. It was hard to differentiate between Sir Alec and his twin brother Eric.

At the time I met Sir Alec he was the chairman of MCC Cricket Selection Committee. For a moment I stood transfixed. In being introduced to him and saying 'hello', I had to rubberneck to speak to this mountain of a man.

After the usual hand shake, he realized my predicament and with a smile asked me to sit on his table while he sat on his chair to continue the conversation and the interview.

Keeping me company was another Sri Lankan pal of mine Clement Arnold who I was holidaying with in London. Incidentally Clement is the uncle of Russel Arnold a former Sri Lankan cricketer and who is now making a name of himself as international TV commentator.

Successful run

Sir Alec put me at ease over a cup of coffee and spoke to me a lot about his career, its beginning and how he made it to the England team after a successful run with Surrey.

It was indeed a memorable meeting considering that I had read so much about the great but not seen him in action.

The pictures above will give an idea of how tall Sir Alec was and how small the writer was.

Bedser was a very nice guy. He did not flaunt his stature. But was simple to a fault. It was a memorable meeting and I can still picture that meeting.

May his soul rest in peace.



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