London: The former England allrounder, Trevor Bailey, has died in a fire at his retirement home in Essex. He was 87.
According to BBC Essex, his body was found in the kitchen of a smoke-logged flat in Crowstone Road, Westcliff just after 0600 GMT. His wife Greta was rescued from the blaze.
"Crews did a fantastic job getting into the property quickly and searching through the smoke to find the woman," said Essex fire service divisional officer Bob Wahl. "She was in bed with the door shut and so that's probably what saved her. Firefighters carried her out of the property and she was left in the care of the ambulance service.
"Her husband had gone to the kitchen, which is where crews found him. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do. We will now have to wait for the fire investigation results to see how the fire started. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time."
Bailey, who played 61 times for England in a ten-year career between 1949 and 1959, is best remembered for his defiant partnership with Willie Watson at Lord's in 1953, in which he batted for four-and-a-half hours to secure a draw that proved pivotal in England's reclaiming of the Ashes after a 19-year hiatus.
A precocious schoolboy cricketer at Dulwich, he played an unofficial Test for England at Lord's in 1944 and after a spell in national service, became a regular in the Essex side and won Blues in 1947 and 1948 at Cambridge. During his Test career, England were the leading side in the world, and he was at the heart of the team.
At Headingley in 1953 he bowled negative leg theory to put the skids on Australia's push for victory. That winter he took 7 for 34 against a powerful West Indies. He bowed out after England's Ashes tour in 1958-59, during which he made first-class cricket's slowest half-century, in 357 minutes at Brisbane, one of 14 matches in which he opened.
After retirement, Bailey wrote books and for newspapers, and became a popular member of the Test Match Special team on the BBC. "Desperate news," wrote his former TMS colleague, Jonathan Agnew, on Twitter. "Dogged batsman, aggressive bowler. Intelligent cricketer. Wonderfully concise pundit. Great sense of humour."