HOWZAT for a tribute to two of the greatest sportsmen ever to graduate from the borough?
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major unveiled a pair of towering statues depicting local cricketing twins Eric and Sir Alec Bedser at either end of the Bedser Bridge in Woking on Monday.
The ex-politician is a personal friend of the sporting greats who grew up in Horsell. Sir John was special guest at a ceremony held at The Lightbox, where an exhibition of the lives of the twins, who represented Surrey and England during their glittering careers, will remain on display for the next month: it includes the former PM’s letter to Alec, in which he says he is mindful to put the ace forward for a knighthood.
The life-size bronze statues, by sculptor Allan Sly, depict Alec bowling from the town side to his brother Eric, over Basingstoke Canal. It would appear that Eric has uncompromisingly smashed the ball for six towards the council’s Civic Offices.
With the assistance of former England player and coach Micky Stewart, a bronze cricket ball has been lodged into the side of the building where the shot would have landed.
Sir John spoke movingly of his friendship with the brothers. He said: “Through our shared love of cricket I was lucky enough to know the twins, and to appreciate their passion for the game, as well as for golf, gardening, and their family home in Woking.
“To think that these sporting greats nurtured their enthusiasm and knowledge of cricket just a stone’s throw from where we are today should make this town and its residents feel very proud indeed.”
He added that the friendship of a Bedser was one to cherish for life. They were well-known for their green fingers, and Sir John said there were times when affairs of state were getting him down and Alec would arrive at No10 bearing a gift of his home produce.
Sir John mused about whether the gift of Brussels sprouts might have any connection with his worries at the time. He explained how Alec had been upset at his bag being removed by security.
He was told they needed to check whether he was considering blowing up the Prime Minister. “If I’d wanted to blow you up I’d have brought radishes, not sprouts,” he declared.
The twins knew their cricket thoroughly and on one occasion Alec predicted that a player’s footwork would see him caught at slip. This duly transpired.
When asked why he hadn’t told this to the player, so he might improve his technique, Alec replied: “Modern players don’t listen to old codgers like us.”
In 51 England tests, Sir Alec bagged 236 wickets and chalked up 714 runs. Ashes success came in 1953 when he led the charge with 39 wickets.
At county level he helped Surrey to the County Championship title eight times between 1950 and 1958. In his final match he finished with a bowling economy of five wickets for 25 runs.
Eric never played for the national side, but has 833 wickets to his name for Surrey. He scored 14,716 runs for his county in an illustrious career.
To ensure that the legacy of the Bedsers lives on, in 2013 Surrey County Cricket Club and Surrey Cricket Board established the Bedser Foundation to raise the profile of the game within Woking’s 33 schools, and to help identify the next generation of cricketing stars.