England great Bedser 90 not out

Sir Alec Bedser, one of England's greatest cricketers, celebrated his 90th birthday with a special lunch at his Oval home ground on Friday.

updated: July 09, 2008 17:10 IST
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Sir Alec Bedser, one of England's greatest cricketers and one of the best fast-medium bowlers of all time, celebrated his 90th birthday with a special lunch at his Oval home ground on Friday.

Former Australia cricketers Richie Benaud, Arthur Morris, Ken Archer, Neil Harvey and Alan Davidson, who all played Test cricket against Surrey legend Bedser, were among those attending.

Few men have given as much to English cricket as Bedser, who took 236 wickets in 51 Tests, including 39 at an average of just 17.48 during England's 1953 Ashes triumph at home to Australia.

Then, after his retirement as a player in 1960, Bedser served as an England selector for 23 years and was chairman of selectors from 1969 to 1981, as well as manging the team on two tours of Australia.

He also had the distinction, according to Sir Donald Bradman himself, of bowling the best ball cricket's greatest batsman ever faced when dismissing the Australian for nought in an Ashes Test at Adelaide during the 1946/67 series.

Bedser, known for his mastery of the leg-cutter, told the Daily Telegraph: "The ball was swinging in a little bit.

"With my ninth ball I held it with that new wider grip. It swung in and pitched leg, cut away and hit off. He (Bradman) said afterwards that it was the best ball that had ever got him out."

In all Bedser took Bradman's wicket eight times and dismissed him in five consecutive Test innings.

While helping Surrey win seven County Championship titles in a row during the 1950s, Bedser became a boyhood hero of the future British Prime Minister John Major, who was also due to attend the lunch.

Looking forward to the event, Bedser said he was particularly keen to meet up with the five Australians.

"It will be really nice to see them all again," Bedser said in a Surrey statement. "The interesting thing about the five is that I played in all of their debut Test Matches against England, which I suppose is an unusual feat."

Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon added: "Sir Alec is one of the most revered and respected names in the history of our county.

"He has dedicated his whole life to the game and it is a thrill for us to be celebrating this special landmark with him."

Former Surrey wicket-keeper, Arthur McIntyre, a team-mate of Bedser's, is the only living England Test cricketer older than Sir Alec.

McIntyre, whose England career was restricted to three Tests by Kent's Godfrey Evans, celebrated his 90th birthday in May.

Bedser's identical twin brother Eric, an off-spinner and batsman who also played for Surrey, died two years ago.