1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s comments made at the lunch to celebrate Alec Bedser’s 90th Birthday, held at The Oval on Friday 4th July 2008.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
Today is Alec's 90th birthday. If I had any doubt that Fate had a sense of humour, Alec being born on Independence Day removes it: some think St George’s Day would have been more fitting. I disagree: George was a Greek, living in Syria who never visited England. Not at all right.
Alec was born into a world now gone. On his birth date, Mehmed VI became Emperor of the Ottoman Empire. Later that month, the Soviets murdered the Czar and his family at Ekaterinburg, and the Battle of the Marne began. And yet, July 1918 had its good points: four Nobel Prize Winners were born together with one of the greatest bowlers in the long history of cricket.
Today, Alec Bedser is revered in every part of the English-
Gathered here, today, are friends of a lifetime. Arthur Morris, Neil Harvey, Ken Archer and Alan Davidson have flown in from the opposite end of the earth. Richie Benaud is here, too. So are a galaxy of England players, some former team-
I know that view will be shared by those here from Alec's other great love: golf. Peter Alliss, John Jacobs, George O'Grady and his old friend and neighbour, Ken Schofield, will tell you Alec was a top-
Others present can -
His record is remarkable. He lost six cricketing years to the War, but still took 236 Test wickets in only 51 matches. If Tests had been as frequent then as today, his tally would have been phenomenal. In his first Test at Lord’s, against India in 1946, he took 11 wickets prompting his mother to say -
In his early Test days Alec was often the alpha and omega of the England attack. Later, at Surrey he was the core of the greatest bowling attack any County side has ever put into the field. He bowed out of first-
Sometimes, little things tell you a lot. In his long career -
"Nothing can come of nothing", said King Lear to Cordelia. Nor can talent.
Is it God-
Nor can a personality come of nothing. Alec's character is as steady as a rock and as certain as the changing of the tides. He is a tribute to what must be a long line of ancestor Bedsers. I wish I’d known them -
When his playing career ended, Alec continued to serve cricket: as an England selector and long term Chairman; as a Tour Manager; as President of Surrey -
Watching cricket with Alec is to enjoy a master-
Sometimes this was unnerving because he and Eric remembered everything. I said to him (rather smugly) one day that -
“Ah”, said Eric, “yes, it was second slip!” “And it wasn’t an out-
In this room are over 100 friends of Alec. At a conservative estimate he would, on average, have known everyone for 40 years: some, of course, far longer. Add it up -
Eric is not here: at least, not visibly so. And yet -
Now, it’s after mid-