ECB chairman lead tributes to former England all-rounder Trevor Bailey

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The Independent Online

Former England all-rounder Trevor Bailey has died after a fire at his home this morning. He was 87.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke led the tributes to Bailey, who earned 61 Tests caps between 1949 and 1959 and played county cricket for Essex for more than 20 years.

He went on to commentate on the BBC's flagship cricket show Test Match Special.

Clarke said: "Trevor Bailey was not only one of the finest all-round cricketers this country has ever produced, he was also someone who made an enormous contribution to the game as an administrator and as a writer and broadcaster.

"His loss will be deeply felt by everyone within the cricket community and we send our sympathies to his family and many friends within the game."

Bailey was found dead by firefighters after the blaze in Westcliff, Essex, shortly after 6am.

Firefighters said an investigation into the cause of the blaze was under way, although sources said the fire was not suspicious.

Essex fire service divisional officer Bob Wahl told BBC Essex that crews were able rescue a woman, understood to be Bailey's wife Greta, from the residence.

As a famously obdurate presence at the crease, Bailey was affectionately nicknamed 'barnacle'.

Most memorably he batted alongside Willie Watson for more than four hours to avert defeat to Australia in 1953, helping England reclaim the Ashes in the process.

ECB chief executive David Collier said: "Trevor was a true all-rounder - on and off the field.

"As captain and secretary of Essex he played a major role in establishing a permanent ground for the county and he was a great friend and inspiration during my early career at Essex .

"Everyone who met Trevor could not fail to be impressed by his deep love and knowledge of cricket. It was a passion that he was able to communicate to millions via radio as a member of the Test Match Special commentary team and there will be very many cricket supporters in this country who will be mourning his loss in such tragic circumstances."

Among those paying tribute to Bailey was Jonathan Agnew, one of the the current Test Match Special commentary team.

He wrote on his Twitter page: "Desperate news re. Trevor Bailey. Dogged batsman, aggressive bowler. Intelligent cricketer. Wonderfully concise pundit. Great sense of humour."

Doug Insole, Essex president and a long-time friend of Bailey, said: "Trevor was a great friend for well over 60 years. We played football and cricket for Cambridge University and were colleagues in the Essex side for about 15 years.

"In the England team in the 1950s Trevor was a tower of strength - a great all-rounder with a cast iron temperament. He was one of a kind and a very sad loss to his many friends."

A statement on behalf of Essex, for whom Bailey played 682 matches, read: "Everyone at Essex Cricket sends their condolences to the family and friends of Trevor at this tragic time."

Former England captain David Gower will remember Bailey fondly for his radio commentaries.

He told Sky Sports News: "I knew him more as commentator - that very familiar voice on radio with Test Match Special. I worked with him a few times in my early days as a broadcaster.

"He was a great lover of the game. So many people of that ilk, it becomes absolutely manifest - the game was everything to them. A great admirer of everyone who played it well - a very good man indeed all round.

"I suspect a lot of younger people like myself will remember him for what he brought to the radio. The game has been taken far and wide over the years and there are so many voices that become associated with the game.

"Trevor was very much part of that Test Match Special team pretty much in its heyday. These things do evolve but a lot of people will remember him very fondly for the way he used to comment - sometimes in very brief terms - but he was a keen judge of the game too.

"Whereas sometimes a little nudge of the voice would be enough to convey an impression, he was also there to give you a long, detailed explanation of what he thought was right or wrong."