Eric Bedser

Elder of the identical cricketing twins who played for Surrey and represented a particular Fifties integrity

Eric Arthur Bedser, cricketer: born Reading, Berkshire 4 July 1918; died Woking, Surrey 24 May 2006.

The cricketer Eric Bedser was older by 10 minutes than his brother Alec. To so many people, the Bedser twins were a living representation of all that was good about Britain in the period 1945-60, the world of Ealing comedies, Miss Marple, Family Favourites, Jack Warner, few cars and a little black-and-white television. Sir Donald Bradman said of the Bedsers: "They exude an integrity which is the hallmark of good citizens."

Country boys, regular churchgoers, the pair were born in Reading in 1918, but soon returned to the family home in Woking - and stayed there. Outstanding at both football and cricket, they arrived at the Oval together, enlisted in the RAF (their father's service) in the Second World War and then, afterwards, while Eric became an opening bat and sometime off-spinner for Surrey, his brother of the lion heart was in effect England's seam attack for six years until the arrival of the new wave of fast bowlers in the early 1950s.

Tall and strong, the Bedsers were so much alike in appearance, speech and mannerisms that even those close to them could not always be certain. They even thought alike. When Alec became only the second ex-professional to be elected a member of the MCC committee, E.W. Swanton recorded: "Alec would say something in committee and an hour later Eric would appear and say exactly the same." They dressed identically and even when miles apart would choose totally similar clothing, even to cufflinks. They had a premium bond win on the same day. To add, good-humouredly, to the confusion, they would refer to each other as "My brother" - no names.

Perhaps the funniest incident, recalled by Alan Hill, concerned the Sydney barber who, having cut Eric's hair, was astounded when Alec arrived 10 minutes later and sat in the chair: "Jesus, mate, I thought I'd just cut your bloody hair. It doesn't take long to grow." To which Alec responded: "It's your hair oil. I'll have to lay off it."

Eric Bedser's status as a cricketer will always cause discussion, in that he was talented enough to have made a much greater impression playing for a county other than Surrey, all-powerful in the 1950s. He took up off-spin in order to differentiate himself from Alec but, with Jim Laker in the side, he was down the pecking order, unused when the ball was turning, and tossed the ball when others had toiled in vain. Some good judges at the Oval maintained he could have been, with his massive hands and ability to give the ball real rip, a Test-class bowler. "Eric," said one contemporary, "was definitely a bowler who batted, not, as the world perceived, a batsman who bowled."

Laker, cruelly, even had a part in blocking Eric's ambitions, for the elder Bedser was chosen to play for the Rest in the famous Test Trial at Bradford in 1950 when Laker took 8-2 for England, one of the very, very few occasions when the Bedsers changed in opposite dressing rooms.

Eric Bedser will be most lovingly remembered at the Oval for his part in maintaining Surrey's supremacy during the mid-1950s when, in several summers, weakened by England's calls on the leading players and harried by an increasingly frustrated Yorkshire, they managed to stay ahead. In 1956, when Surrey won the championship for a fifth successive year, Eric scored 804 runs and took 92 wickets, tantalisingly close to the magic double, and his captain Stuart Surridge commented: "Without him in the side, we might not have won the championship."

Throughout their cricketing career, the Bedsers built up a successful office equipment business in which it was generally accepted that Eric was the major figure until it was absorbed in a takeover by Ryman in 1977.

Both were enthusiastic golfers and over the years reduced their handicap, naturally, to the same figure, 5. Eric finished with 14,716 runs at an average of 24.01 in his 23 years of Surrey service and took 833 wickets at 24.95 each. He four times took 10 wickets in a match and his highest score was 163 against Nottinghamshire in 1949. He was elected president of Surrey in 1990.

Derek Hodgson

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Ventilation Cleaning Operative

£15600 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower