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Remembering 'the Boil'

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Adam Mountford | 14:01 UK time, Thursday, 10 February 2011

When asked to name cricketers who supporters love, one immediately thinks of those swashbuckling players who can change a game in a few overs - the likes of an Ian Botham, Adam Gilchrist or Virender Sehwag.

But fans also love a fighter - someone who defends their wicket at all costs and defies the odds to frustrate the opposition.

In the modern era, you think of Rahul Dravid, who is nicknamed 'the Wall' because of the difficulty in dislodging him once he is established at the crease.

You also have to mention Geoffrey Boycott, who built his reputation on the most solid of defences, and then there is Essex and England all-rounder Trevor Bailey, who has very sadly passed away at the age of 87.

Bailey (rear) in the Test Match Special commentary box with Brian Johnston - photo: Getty

His partnership with Willie Watson in the 1953 Ashes Test at Lord's has gone down in cricketing folklore; the pair batted together for more than four hours to keep the Australians at bay, a feat which makes James Anderson and Monty Panesar's Cardiff defiance of 2009 seem like a walk in the park.

After retirement from cricket, Bailey became a legendary figure in the Test Match Special box and some of my favourite memories as a youngster obsessed with listening to TMS are of his stories about famous rearguard actions.

I was absolutely fascinated with this character known as 'the Boil' and remember that on an album released featuring the stars of Test Match Special, Bailey was asked by Brian Johnston about his memories of playing against Don Bradman.

In his wonderfully distinctive voice, I vividly recall Bailey talking about facing the Don at Southend in 1948 and saying: "We bowled Australia out in a day .... although they did score 721 runs."

Bailey worked on TMS from 1967 until 1999 and alongside Fred Trueman became one of the most familiar voices on the programme. As a listener what I liked about him was that he didn't waste his time on platitudes. He could be a harsh critic of a player, but when Trevor Bailey praised someone it really meant something.

At Headingley in 1981 it was Bailey who put Ian Botham's amazing 149 not out into context: "It was a magnificent century, what more can you say.... One of the greatest innings of all time in Test cricket... the sort of innings one of the greats like a Garry Sobers would have been proud to have played..stupendous."

As a player himself, although rightly praised as an all-time-great blocker - Bailey's other achievements should not be underestimated. He achieved the rare feat of taking 10 wickets in an innings, is the only player since the Second World War to score more than 2,000 runs and take 100 wickets in a season and in 1950 was selected as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year.

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TMS archive - Bailey helps England regain the Ashes in 1953

He was also a very talented footballer who back in the 1950s played in the Walthamstow Avenue side which reached the fourth round of the FA Cup. Like another non-league side Crawley this season, Walthamstow were drawn to play Manchester United at Old Trafford and managed to earn a replay after a 1-1 draw.

It is no great surprise that even as a footballer his most famous moment should feature a battle against the odds.

I am sad that I never got to work with Trevor Bailey in the Test Match Special box but I am sure that , like me, you will have many great memories of listening to him over the years.

We will pay tribute to Trevor Bailey during our coverage of the forthcoming World Cup - but I would love to hear your thoughts on him either here on the TMS Blog or on Twitter @tmsproducer, some of which may be included in our look-back on his career both on the field and in the commentary box.

On behalf of the Test Match Special team, we send kind regards to his family and friends on such a tragic loss.


  • Comment number 1.

    Well said, nice tribute.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    A fitting tribute

  • Comment number 4.

    Well said. Pretty much my memories of him too. Loved that wry humour - "We bowled Australia out in a day .... although they did score 721 runs."


    Rest in Peace Boil!

  • Comment number 5.

    I was brought up by my Father to stay in and occupy the crease like the "Boil"!!A dogged cricketer and a witty, accurate and warm commentator.God Blees, Trevor Bailey!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Respectful farewell to former international test cricketer and TMS commentator Trevor Bailey. May he experience eternal bliss.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 7.

    I remember often seeing Bailey batting and bowling as a small child in the 50s at the - now defunct - Leyton County Cricket Ground, in north east London. I particularly remember the shock and then euphoria of everyone in the crowd, when we witnessed Barnacle Bailey hitting a SIX! I sadly mourn this wonderful player and character..

  • Comment number 8.

    A sad day indeed.

    I saw Trevor Bailey play quite a few times, both for Essex and for England, but I can't recall any innings more "miraculous" than the 80 odd he scored in the partnership with Willie Watson in 1953. Memory plays tricks, of course, but I seem to remember going to school in the morning thinking we had lost - and returning in the afternoon to tune in to the astonishing news that we hadn't.

    I remember him as a bustling bowler who looked hostile, even from the boundary. In the 1950s he was an automatic choice for his all-round capability. As EW Swanton wrote, "Bailey picks himself."

    In the TMS commentary box, he was authority personified, both knowledgeable and frank. - I have a vague feeling it was he who consistently urged players to "bat sensibly." That's what he did - eyes always on the team task, not on any personal glory.

  • Comment number 9.

    Although Trevor has had a good innings, it is in desperately sad circumstances that he leaves us and I have his family in my thoughts.

    Players of his ilk are sadly a thing of the past and more is the pity. What a truly great player and servant of his country. A few people have alluded to his critical tendencies but in truth, just like his contemporary Fred Trueman, he was only basing his criticisms on what would have been acceptable during his own playing days. What would England give for a player of his calibre these days? Priceless. RIP

  • Comment number 10.

    I started watching Trevor Bailey and Essex cricket in 1953, aged eight, at Chelmsford and later at the other Essex grounds. On the scorecard as T E Bailey, denoting his amateur status, he was known to the Essex supporters as "Windows" Bailey because he could hit the ball a long way threatening the safety of patients in Mens' Surgical in the Chelmsford and Essex Hospital.
    Very sad way to go. I hope Mr Bailey will be remembered as just a bit swashbuckling. His batting was every bit as good and as aggressive as his batting - and fielding.

  • Comment number 11.

    I remember Trevor Bailey as a very young man.

    Not sure where this "boil" came from. In my circles at that time he was always known as "Barnicle Bailey".

    Not sure who came up with the expression but for certain he earned the name as he stuck like no body else I have ever seen (including Geoff Boyacott)to his wicket.

    Batting may have been painfully slow at times when England had problems but it was cricket with the highest concentration of effort & you could not afford to miss any ball bowled.

    If you got the wicket of Trevor Bailey at any moment that England were in trouble you were hero status. He was just super glued to his wicket.

    Well done Barnicle. RIP.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm terribly sorry to read of the death of Trevor Bailey, one of the all time greats of English cricket. When England were in dire straits batting against the Aussies or the Windies we would call out at home, "send for Bailey." There was always hope when he was at the crease.
    I only saw him play a couple of times but I remember the first ball I saw him bowl, and he took the wicket of one of the best opening bats in the country.
    I don know what will be read at his funeral, perhaps something along the lines of ....
    "But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote -- 'Play up! play up! and play the game!'"

  • Comment number 13.

    Tragic news of Trevor Bailey today. I was also a cricket (and of course TMS) obsessed youngster in the 70's and remember so vividly hanging on the Boil's every word. Wasn't that nickname give by Johnners? Seem to remember him recalling Australian crowds barracking Trevor with "get on with it 'Boiley'..." as he dug in for another typically dogged innings. A couple of phrases I will never forget: "Dream time" when England had collapsed to something like 120-6 and a late order batsman was making his way to the crease. The challenge of such situations was exactly what he had loved as a player himself. And then I can still hear Trevor recalling the advice of one of his former Essex captains to a batsman asking how he should approach his innings...
    "just play your shots, but don't get out !" chuckle, chuckle....
    One of the real post-war England greats.

  • Comment number 14.

    I can recall listening avidly to every ball I could on the BBC Radio Broadcasts of the Test Matches as a young kid in the 50's. Trevor Bailey was one of the many renowned England players there was in those days and is surely a true cricket legend. What status and character the players had in those days! My own favourite was Freddy Trueman but I loved them all. RIP.

  • Comment number 15.

    A truly sad day. I can hear him now in the TMS box shouting 'Streaker!' in that unforgettable voice when a naked lady joined in the test match. Thank you 'Boil' you were always good value.

  • Comment number 16.

    I gather that another legendary TMS commentator when asked about how he would best describe the art of radio commentary once said, that it was like painting a picture for someone blind. Well in Trevor Bailey we had a true Picaso! A great cricketer, a great commentator, a true ambassador for our game, he will be missed by all lovers of the game.

  • Comment number 17.

    My love of cricket as a child came from my parents having TMS on incessantly in the house in the 1970s and 80s. TMS is the single biggest reason that I am a cricket obsessive today, and Trevor Bailey was and remains my all time favourite TMS summariser.

    Bailey and Trueman used to tell it how it was, and God help any player who they felt wasn't up to it, or worse still, wasn't trying.

    A sad, sad day

  • Comment number 18.

    My favourite bit of Bailey's commentary came during Kapil Dev's astonishing assault on Eddie Hemmings' bowling at Lords in 1990. CMJ was on the mic with Trevor alongside, and after the second six, Bailey was urging Kapil to take a single. Next ball - wallop, six. CMJ was suitably admiring, as were the rest of the box, knowing that saving the follow on was only six runs away. 'Will he go for it again' mused CMJ, only for TB to comment, to much mirth, 'My own feeling is to go for the single now', but, after the guffaws had subsided, he added 'but I think he might go for another biggie'. CMJ then gently teased him by saying 'you didn't often go for four sixes in a row, Trevor'. After the fourth consecutive six went duly soaring out of the ground everyone on TMS, Trevor included, were fulsome in their praise. A fabulous piece of cricket beautifully augmented by superb, utterly memorable commentary.

  • Comment number 19.

    I was lucky enough to be in Antigua in 1994 for the Lara 375 test match. It turned out that Trevor Bailey was staying at my hotel with his tour party. We were outside the hotel waiting for a taxi when he just invited us along and ushered us into his mini-bus with his party. He then arranged for us to meet up with him after the game for a lift back! What a gentleman, what a player and what a commentator.
    Rest in peace Mr Bailey.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    A wonderful all-rounder, writer , radio summariser and Englishman, whose perceptiveness, articulacy and ready wit helped keep me riveted to TMS and his writing for many an hour.

    As a boy I saw him bowl an orange to a bemused batsman at Scarborough Cricket festival while a brass band played in the corner of the ground.

    He was an inspiration to many of us, and, with his tragic passing will be be deeply missed. Sincere condolences to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.

  • Comment number 22.

    What a tragic end for a great English cricketer, son of Essex & broadcaster. As a small boy living in the Midlands in the late 50s early 60's. I used to stay with my Grandmother in Leytonstone for a week every summer.My Uncle an Essex member always took me to the County ground at Leyton if Essex were playing. One year I was taken into the members ding room to have lunch . On the next table was TB who had a chat with me, noticed my autograph book said he wanted to borrow it, . Later a call came over the tanoy asking me to go into the pavilion and meet him where I was presented with my book back complete with autographs of both teams. Today I'm a member of the MCC and have had a lifelong love of the game, but that interest started 50 years or more ago nutured by by one of the great Gentlemen of cricket. R.I.P

  • Comment number 23.

    What people often forget is that batting is a partnership and without the likes of Trevor Bailey the stroke makers of this world would not have a partner to entertain the crowd with.

    R.I.P. Trevor Bailey

  • Comment number 24.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 25.

    Nice tribute and some nice comments as well. I only knew Trevor Bailey as a commentator but he was a hero to my Dad and my Uncle for his efforts with England and our beloved Essex. It is a real shame that the obituary on this website is such a woeful piece of work, maybe it could be mentioned to whoever dashed it off that the death of a great cricketer is probably not the time to try and pull off whimsical comedy at his expense.

  • Comment number 26.

    I was truly saddened to hear of the end of the Bailey innings, especially as it seems to have come about in such a tragic manner - he deserved better luck.

    A fine cricketer - I didn't see him play very often as my first remembered watching of cricket came towards the end of his international career, but I have his autograph ,and I recall being impressed by his determination and devotion to the team.
    Later, his radio work was first class - he usually had something sensible to say and didn't rabbit on for the sake of it as some have been known to do...he will be missed.
    Rest in peace.

  • Comment number 27.

    RIP Trevor Bailey. A truly tragic way to pass away.

    The 'trenchent', 'truculent' but always fair and articulate Boil was my favourite summariser during one's formative TMS listening throughout the 80s.

  • Comment number 28.

    Sadly, I never saw him play, but I've listened to him for years, and always enjoyed listening to "The Boil"

  • Comment number 29.

    Wonderful memories of Trevor Bailey, Alec Bedser and the terrible twins Lock and Laker. The 1953 ashes victory was particularly welcome after the incident in Australia when Bedser had clearly caught and bowled Bradman but the Don refused to walk and the umpire let him get away with it. Great days and some great cricket.

  • Comment number 30.

    A great man has exited the planet! How fleeting is our time, how sweet or bitter the memories!

  • Comment number 31.

    A splendid cricketer and a splendid man of cricket. I've read many of his books and remember his radio work and he came over as being a true lover of the game, both respectful and proud of cricket in the past and of the time he played but also recognising and respecting how the game had changed since he retired from playing. The story about the six in the Brisbane Test in 1954-55 is typical of Bailey's humour (

    All sympathies to his family and friends.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Trevor Bailey will be sadly missed. A great cricketer and an excellent commentator. I imagine his thoughts on candyfloss 2020 cricket and the relentless overdose of meaningless ODIs would have been similar to my own. Why "The Boil" ? I recall reading in the Playfair Cricket Monthly that a Swiss radio commentator describing an amateur football match in which he was playing mispronounced Bailey as Boiley. No doubt Jonners pounced on that one and he became The Boil thereafter. RIP.

  • Comment number 34.

    I am 65 years old and still live in Southend. I watched Trevor Bailey at Southchurch Park with the Essex team. At the time he used to live in Reviera Drive and I went to school with his Daughter at 10 years old in 56. I always listened to TMS, only them days we had it on BBC 2 all day and I used to get home from school to watch it till 6-30. If I had to play with my mates, my mum would keep me updated wih the score from the window, great days, great memories, Trevor Bailey R.I.P.

  • Comment number 35.

    I am based in Singapore. It is very frustrating having no access to TMS commentary for non UK based matches. I hope this will not be the case for the World Cup. However your new podcast system is a life saver. Please consider putting a podcast out with the Trevor Bailey lookback programme you are planning. If no World Cup commentary access is possible, could you put out the Agnew / Boycott podcast for England matches as you do in the UK.

  • Comment number 36.

    trevor, like your australian equivilent you put as much thought and
    passion into your radio as your effort on the cricket field.
    the top order of all rounders is where you stand.R.I.P.


  • Comment number 37.

    poor fellah.

    anyone else find the tms link visuals unfortunate, in the circumstances?

  • Comment number 38.

    I deepy mourn the tragic death of TEB. I as a schoolboy enjoyed TMS thorughly during the 80's and alongwith the late BJ formed a formidable pair in the TMS box. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

    Good Bye Trevor


    Nanda Kishore
    Chennai, India

  • Comment number 39.

    His voice along with the likes of Brian Johnston and Fred Trueman were part of my "growing up". I particularly remember his often used expression that somebody had played "very sensibly" which somehow gained in my mind a meaning all of its own. RIP


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