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Updated: April 7, 2010 15:01 IST

Sir Alec Bedser passes away

P. Subramanyam
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Sir Alec Bedser, former Surrey and England cricketer, has died aged 91. The fast bowler, who was knighted in 1997, passed away on Sunday evening at a hospital after falling ill last month, it was announced on Monday morning.

He took 236 wickets for England in 51 Tests in a 10-year period and then served a record 23 years as a selector and also managed two overseas tours.

He retired as Test selector in 1981 and saw the sacking of Ian Botham as England captain, overseeing the rise of one-day cricket and the notorious Basil D'Oliveira controversy.

In his playing days, he was well-known for his lethal leg-cutters and subtle in-swingers. He made his Test debut against India in 1946, taking seven wickets in his first innings, four in his second and 11 more in the next Test.

In his first encounter in Australia, he bowled Don Bradman for a duck with a fast leg-cutter and went on to dismiss the Don six times.

In his career, Bedser took 1,924 first class wickets and a then record of 236 Test wickets, his best first class figures were twelve for 35 against Warwickshire. It remains the only occasion when a county championship match has been completed inside a day.

In 1946 and 1947, he sent down 3,200 overs in first-class cricket, a workload that would have today's bowlers reeling.

England retained the Ashes in 1953 and with Bedser's bowling partnership, Trevor Bailey was praised as one of the all-time great pairings as against the Lindwall-Miller combination in the Australian side.

With his twin brother, he joined the ground staff in Surrey headquarters in 1938 for the summer wage of £two a week and with a winter retainer of £one.

Alec and Eric, who were inseparable twins, continued to be familiar faces at the Oval. Eric passed away in May 2006, but before he died the twins were often mistaken for each other by friends, colleagues and teammates.

The batsmen were all foxed when the twins were in action and would always comment, “he's got a wonderful change of pace.”

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