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The making of Trevor Bailey, one of England’s finest all-rounders – Almanack

Trevor Bailey
by Almanack Archive 5 minute read

Trevor Bailey had a breakout season as an all-rounder in 1949, which included two fifties and as many five-fors in his first Test series against New Zealand. He was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year the following spring.

Trevor Edward Bailey, one of the few genuine all-round cricketers of 1949, was born at Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, on December 3, 1923. He learned the game at the Alleyn Court Preparatory School, Westcliff, run by Denys Wilcox, the former Essex amateur and captain. For the foundation of his batting style, Bailey owns indebtedness to Wilcox, but his fast bowling came, in his own words, more or less naturally. From his prep. school, Bailey went to Dulwich College, and put to good use the helpful hints received from Father Marriott, the old Kent and England bowler. The cricket world, in fact, first took notice of Bailey because of his achievements at Dulwich, many of them in company with AWH Mallett. He won his colours at cricket when 14, played in the Rugby XV, and was Victor Ludorum.

Bailey’s forte, in his early years at Dulwich, seemed to be batting, but in 1942, his last summer there, when he captained the side, he left no doubt about his bowling ability. He was invited to play a good deal at Lord’s and with the British Empire XI.

On leaving Dulwich, Bailey immediately enlisted in the Royal Marines, and he rose to the rank of Lieutenant before demobilisation in 1946. Lacking regular practice and with weightier matters on his mind, Bailey, not surprisingly, was hardly successful in the representative games in which he appeared during his period of service. He played in one-day games for England against the Dominions and West Indies in 1943, and in 1944 against Australia and the Dominions. In 1945, when he was out of the country for a spell, he played little cricket.

Then, with demobilisation, his skill quickly returned. He made his debut for Essex in 1946 as an opening bowler and opening batsman against Derbyshire at Ilford. That season Bailey scored 318 runs for Essex, with a highest innings of 97 not out at Worcester, and took 31 wickets. Next year Bailey went to Cambridge, at once advanced his reputation, and gained his cricket Blue. The summer brought him 566 runs for Cambridge, including centuries against Yorkshire and Gloucestershire, and 49 wickets. In the University match he scored 9 and 60 not out and took 3-112.

After term, Bailey appeared for Gentlemen v. Players and again assisted Essex. He headed their batting by scoring 630 runs, including an innings of 205 against Sussex at Eastbourne (the highest of his career), and obtained 25 wickets, five in each innings at Derby. In the winter, Bailey found himself compelled to decline a trip with MCC to West Indies, and in 1948, he was below his best. Still, in the University match, he scored 55 and 18 and dismissed five men for 110. For Cambridge, he totalled 295 runs and took 38 wickets, and his performances for Essex yielded him 324 runs and 18 wickets.

Last season, with the cares of Cambridge behind him, Bailey was seen in much different light. He took a wicket with the first ball of the season at Lord’s and his impressive early work prompted the selectors to pick him for the first Test against New Zealand. After his fine bowling and fielding in that game his choice for the remaining Tests was almost automatic. As other portions of this book tell, his batting became as valuable to his country and county as his bowling. He was the first cricketer of the season to achieve the double – a performance completed on August 1 – and he enjoyed another measure of personal satisfaction when running through Lancashire at Clacton and taking all ten wickets. During the summer, Bailey scored 1,380 runs and took 130 wickets at 24.20 runs apiece.

Although Bailey has accomplishments as bowler, batsman and fielder, it is as a fast bowler that he is best known. Lithe and wiry in build, Bailey stands just under 5 ft. 10 in. and weighs 11 stone. In his school days, he saw a lot of Larwood and, not unnaturally, tried to model himself on the great Nottinghamshire and England fast bowler. Bailey runs up in smooth, straight manner for about nineteen paces and with a leap delivers the ball which comes quickly to the batsman. Bailey is always experimenting. He has already changed his action five times and is ready to do so again for the sake of improvement. He has the knack of bowling the deadly ball which pitches on the leg stump and hits the off, but he is just as likely to take a wicket with a break-back or in-swinger. Wisely, he bowls his stock ball well within himself at a pace which is below that of Larwood and Lindwall, but at times he slips in a faster one.

Bailey is a capable No. 5 or 6 batsman. He would be quite content to play sound, steady cricket, but circumstances have tended to make him an aggressive player. He is an attractive stroke player with a fondness for the cut, but can score freely with the drive and leg-side strokes. He is an alert and fleet-footed fielder, and would be happy in the deep, but he has made a name for himself as a slip and short-leg adept at holding awkward catches.

His enthusiasm for cricket is duplicated in his keenness for Soccer. Bailey gained his Blue as an outside-right in 1947, and also played against Oxford the following year. For the past two winters he has occupied the centre-forward position for Leytonstone, the Isthmian League team. Bailey combines scholastic duties as a teacher at Alleyn Court Preparatory School with the assistant secretaryship of Essex.

Trevor Bailey went on to become one of England’s greatest all-rounders and finished with 2,290 runs and 132 wickets from 61 Tests. In 682 first-class games, he scored 28,641 runs and picked up a whopping 2,082 wickets

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