Trevor Bailey, one of the best known names among SJA members, died today following a fire at his retirement home in Essex.
Bailey was 87. His wife, Greta, was rescued from the blaze in their Westcliff-on-Sea flat, according to reports on local BBC Radio.
While Bailey’s fabulous sporting career, as one of England’s finest ever cricketers and an outstanding amateur footballer, is certain to feature prominently in obituaries and tributes, his 20-year career as a sports writer for the Financial Times and a much-admired commentator for BBC’s Test Match Special should not be overlooked.
Only last month, Ijaz Chaudhry interviewed “Barnacle” for Cricinfo and the SJA website, in which Bailey recounted memories of his journalism career as well as his many sporting achievements.
“This is very sad news indeed,” Steven Downes, the SJA Secretary, said this morning. “The Association sends its deepest condolences to Trevor’s family, together with our hopes for Greta after this terrible fire.
“Only yesterday, at our latest committee meeting, it was agreed that Trevor, as one of the SJA’s older and most distinguished members, should receive honorary membership at our annual meeting in April.”
As well as being an FA Amateur Cup-winner, Bailey remains the only English cricketer ever to score 2,000 runs and take 100 wickets in a season, achievements that eluded even Ian Botham.
As a journalist, there can be few sports reporters, surely who have managed to combine covering an Olympic Games while also writing on a cricket Test series, as Bailey did during the summer of 1972.
Bailey won 61 England cricket caps between 1949 and 1959, and is best remembered for his defiant partnership with Willie Watson at Lord’s in 1953, in which he batted for four-and-a-half hours to secure a draw that proved pivotal in England’s reclaiming of the Ashes after a 19-year hiatus.
A precocious schoolboy cricketer at Dulwich College, he played an unofficial Test for England at Lord’s in 1944. After a spell in National Service with the Royal Marines at the end of the Second World War, he became a regular in the Essex side and won Blues in 1947 and 1948 at Cambridge.
Cricinfo’s tribute today said of Bailey, “During his Test career, England were the leading side in the world, and he was at the heart of the team.”
He was also the beating heart of Essex county cricket, serving as both the club’s captain and secretary, responsible for attracting top overseas players to the county in the 1960s, and the development of the Chelmsford ground.
ECB chief executive David Collier paid tribute to Bailey: ” Trevor was a true all-rounder – on and off the field . As captain and secretary of Essex he played a major role in establishing a permanent ground for the county and he was a great friend and inspiration during my early career at Essex.
“Everyone who met Trevor could not fail to be impressed by his deep love and knowledge of cricket. It was a passion that he was able to communicate to millions via radio as a member of the Test Match Special commentary team and there will be very many cricket supporters in this country who will be mourning his loss in such tragic circumstances.”