Trevor Bailey (1923-2011)

I was surprised by how sad the death of Trevor Bailey on Thursday made me feel. He was just a couple of years older than my own father, and the circumstances in which he died were tragic. But I think the strength of my feelings had as much to do with the fact that another key element of a central part of my childhood, adolescence and cricket-infected maturity had gone for good.

Despite his illustrious playing career, as The Old Batsman says, those of us in our forties and below knew Bailey only as a radio summariser. If you grew up in Britain in the 1970s, the 1980s or the 1990s and were interested in cricket, you will have listened to Test Match Special. In fact there's every chance that you will have listened to it for hours and hours and hours.

And this will mean that you will have become very familiar with Bailey's particular brand of acerbic perspicacity, individualistic, clipped delivery and precise, orthodox vocabulary. At times he could appear pompous and slightly deficient in the humour department, but, having had the pleasure of meeting him during an England supporters' tour to South Africa in the mid-nineties (when, for a range of reasons, a good sense of humour was required), I know that this impression was illusory. He was a genial and tolerant man, who, in a cricket sense, had really been around the block but wore his vast experience and knowledge lightly.

Like everything, TMS has changed and evolved. In some senses for the better, in others for the worse. But the loss of Bailey, following Arlott, Johnston, Trueman and Frindall, means that one more link with what many regard as the programme's golden age has been lost.


Paddy said...

Long may Blofeld and CMJ continue to maintain the traditions.

CMJ came up with a lovely description of Bailey's best skill in the commentary box: "The best distiller since Johnnie Walker"

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Paddy.

I had seen the CMJ comment and thought it was genius.

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