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Alec Bedser: 104wickets in 21Ashes Tests.
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Sir Alec Bedser played in five Ashes series, playing 21 Tests and taking 104 Australian wickets. He is the only English bowler to have taken 30 or more wickets in Ashes series at home and away. After retiring as a player, he was an England selector for 13 Ashes series (plus one in which the Ashes were not at stake, and the two oneoff Centenary Tests). He was also the manager for the 1974–75 and 1979–80 tours of Australia, after being the assistant manager in 1962–63.
It is a great pleasure to be asked to write this foreword, as I have had a long association with both the Ashes and Wisden. Indeed the Ashes has been a significant factor throughout much of my life, while Wisdenhas recorded and reported on my entire cricket career.
One of the greatest honours in my career was being selected as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year in 1947. In 2007, at the dinner to launch that year’s Wisden, I was honoured to be presented with a special leatherbound copy of the 1947 almanack to mark the 60th anniversary of my being named. As I write this foreword, my great friend and ex-Surrey and England colleague Arthur McIntyre, who was born less than two months before me in 1918, is the only Wisden Cricketer of the Year still alive who is older than me.
I think my earliest Ashes-related memory is seeing the Evening News when Don Bradman scored 334 at Headingley in 1930. It was unusual to have big photos in the papers in those days, let alone a cricket one, but I remember half of the front page was taken up by a photo of The Don. I had just had my 12th birthday the previous week, and seeing Bradman on the front page made a big impression on me.
Six years later I remember listening to bits of Alan McGilvray’s radio commentaries of the 1936–37 Ashes series in Australia. By that time my twin brother Eric and I were set on a cricket career with Surrey, and like any young cricketer I wanted to play for England against Australia. When Australia toured in 1938 I was busy playing for Surrey’s Second Eleven, so I didn’t get to see any of the Tests. However, I only just missed out, as we arrived back at The Oval at the end of a West Country tour just a few hours after the final Test finished. I remember looking at the pitch which, after four days’ play, was as perfect a strip as I ever saw. Hutton had made a world-record score of 364 and England had declared on 903 for 7. The groundsman, Bosser Martin, had predicted that they would get a thousand on his pitch so I remember him being upset that Wally Hammond had declared!
Eric and I made our Surrey debuts in 1939, but our careers were almost immediately put on hold as we joined the RAF when war broke out. I played a little cricket in
All rights reserved. You may not copy, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this content in any form or by any means.