The death of Trevor Bailey is another disconnect from the past. While most of the obituaries [rightly] focused on his playing career, to later generations like mine Bailey was known firstly as a voice on TMS. He appeared, with Fred Trueman, as one of the expert summarisers, men who sat alongside the commentators and provided the earthy insight of the trenches - Trueman the autodidact philosopher king, regally dismissive of flannel and Southern nonsense; Bailey the flint-hearted pro with an unexpected aesthetic eye.
Henry Blofeld gave a radio tribute this week, remembering how easily Bailey had slapped him into place early in his TMS career: Blofeld had said - hyperbolically by the standards of the mid-70s - that Greg Chappell had just provided an unmatchable example of an off drive. 'Greg Chappell of course,' sniffed Bailey, 'is better-known for the on drive...'
Both Trueman and Bailey were ribbed back by the commentators, Trueman for his tendency to rose-tint the past [especially any aspect of it that involved him], and Bailey for his legendary ability to remain at the crease almost runless for many hours at a time. It offered an interesting distinction between the pair. Fred didn't much like any challenge, however light-hearted, to his ability, whereas Bailey would chuckle happily at the same, and rejoiced in his nickname of 'The Boil'.
What we have lost, apart from a man who, even at 87 went before his time in awful circumstances, is that balance between pro broadcasters and pro players. TMS clearly delineated between them: the broadcasters commentated and the pros offered analysis and opinion. Bailey was not expected to describe Botham, as Arlott unforgettably did, as 'coming in from the Kirkstall Lane end like a shire horse cresting the breeze', just as Arlott wasn't obliged to hold forth on facing Wes Hall.
Some cricketers have been able to do it, Richie Benaud their nonpareil, but today, especially on television, all other talents have been lost. A richness has gone from the media surrounding the game. Arlott and Bailey would have very different careers today.
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