Trevor Bailey 1923-2011

Doug Insole, Trevor Bailey’s predecessor as captain at Essex, saw a sure-footed rebel hone his technique to become one of England’s front-line bowlers. But he never forgot his county

TREVOR BAILEY’s death was as unexpected as it was tragic. I had lunch with him two days beforehand on the front at Southend and, physically, he was amazingly fit for a man of his age. I was incredulous when Tim, his elder son, phoned to tell me he had died.

I first met Trevor in October 1946 on the Cambridge University football ground. I knew of him, of course, as a result of his involvement in first-class cricket. Unsurprisingly he had never heard of me.

We had a good deal in common, what with our Essex backgrounds. We were both reading history, enjoyed Westerns and very soon formed a
right-wing partnership in the University soccer side. Trevor was a useful footballer – pacy, with two
good feet and a quick eye for an opening. Around 1950 he joined Walthamstow Avenue and with them won an Amateur Cup medal at Wembley with 100,000 watching.

In the summer of 1947 I was awarded my Blue, at which point it was Trevor who suggested to Essex that I was worth a run with them, and so a lifetime friendship began in earnest.

At the start of his career Trevor was very sure of himself, pretty arrogant on the field, a bit of a rebel off it and by no means everybody’s favourite man. He was, however, his own most severe critic where performance and technique were concerned and over a period of two or three years he made fundamental changes to his bowling action and method which lifted him into the top rank among England’s bowlers, swinging the ball away or moving it in off the seam at a very handy pace. In the process he developed into one of the best tactical thinkers in the game.

As a batsman, his method was very sound, except perhaps against offspinners. He decided that his most effective role would be as a defensive player and, although he was capable of playing a variety of offensive shots, he found it very difficult to adapt his game once he had got into the groove.

As a team member he was first-class. He never stopped trying and matured rapidly over the years as an individual. When I was appointed captain of Essex in 1950 – he being a far better and more successful player than I – he never showed any sign of resentment. Like Graham Gooch after him, Trevor always seemed happy to be back playing for his county after an international break.

At home he was very content. He married Greta in 1948 and they had three children. They are a close-knit and very supportive family. Domestically Trevor was a hoot – completely useless. He volunteered cheerfully to change fuses knowing full well that this would be declined and that he might even be invited to sit down with a gin and tonic to keep him out of the way.

On retiring from cricket he took
on a variety of occupations – writing
on cricket and football for the FT, joining the Test Match Special team, becoming a partner in a PR business, opening a sports shop, as well as several others, including hosting overseas touring parties.

Trevor spent his whole life in Southend, moving house on four occasions but never by more than a few hundred yards. In retirement he appeared from time to time at Southend or Chelmsford to watch Essex and to meet up with some of his old team-mates. He did not take kindly to limited-overs cricket although well aware of its commercial necessity.

In later years Trevor’s memory began to fail but he retained his sense of humour and was always good company. He was a very close and loyal friend for 65 years and undoubtedly
one of a kind.

Trevor Edward Bailey was born on December 3, 1923 and died on February 10, 2011, aged 87.

Doug Insole played nine Tests for England and had 17 seasons with Trevor Bailey at Essex

To read Robin Marlar’s piece on Trevor Bailey, click here

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