Former England cricketer Trevor Bailey's death in fire 'accidental'

An inquest has recorded a verdict of accidental death on former England all-rounder and BBC Test Match Special commentator Trevor Bailey.

The 87-year-old died in a fire at his home in Westcliff, Essex in February. His wife Greta was rescued from the Crowstone Road flat.

The inquest was heard by Essex coroner Peter Dean at Southend Court House.

Mr Bailey won 61 cricket Test caps between 1949 and 1959. He was regarded as one of England's great all-rounders.

He played county cricket for Essex for more than 20 years and scored 1,000 runs and took 100 wickets in a year several times.

At the time of Mr Bailey's death, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles 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."

Former prime minister Sir John Major also paid tribute.

"One of my abiding memories as a small boy is of Trevor Bailey and Willie Watson batting at Lord's to save the Test match against the Australians," he said.

Toaster suspected

"It was a superb effort, without which we would not have won back the Ashes in 1953."

Mr Bailey was found dead face down in the doorway of the kitchen of his flat a fire investigation revealed.

The blaze centred on a toaster which had a badly burnt flex and a loaf of bread was found nearby.

The report said it was not possible to be confident of the cause of the blaze.

The toaster was not faulty but was a probable source of the fire.

Together 60 years

A post-mortem examination found Bailey died of smoke inhalation and it was likely that he fell unconscious early on.

Mr Dean said: "This was a tragic accident and my thoughts are very much with his family, friends and the many others who have been touched by his death in these very sad circumstances."

Outside the inquest, his daughter Sharon Rawlingson said: "My mother is as well as can be expected. They were together for 60 years and were devoted to one another.

"We have been very touched by the tributes and support we have received, both from people who knew my father and the wider public."

Dozens of former cricketers, sports journalists and many Test Match Special colleagues attended a memorial service in his honour at Chelmsford Cathedral in May.

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