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Bill Alley


Died when: 85 years 295 days (1029 months)
Star Sign: Aquarius


Bill Alley

William Edward Alley (3 February 1919 – 26 November 2004) was a cricketer who played 400 first-class matches for New South Wales, Somerset and a Commonwealth XI.

Whilst in Australia, Alley was also a middleweight boxer, and was undefeated in 28 contests when he was forced to give it up after being hit on the head in the nets at cricket practice.

His cricket career was interrupted and delayed both by his boxing career, and by World War Two, which saw first class cricket matches cancelled for 6 years.

He was tipped to play Tests by Don Bradman, the Australian cricket captain, but missed out after fracturing a jaw.

This prompted him to leave New South Wales and come to Lancashire, England, playing league cricket there for Colne Cricket Club for five years from 1948, becoming the only player to score 1000 runs in each of five consecutive seasons in the league's history.

This 5-year spell at Colne fulfilled the requirement at that time that any foreign player coming to England had to reside in England for 5 years before he could play first-class cricket in England.

From Colne he moved to play for Blackpool CC in the newly established Northern League where he scored 19 centuries.As the professional for Blackpool, he was able to earn more money than any first class cricketer anywhere in the world.

Each League side in Lancashire was permitted to pay only one professional.During the 1950s and early 1960s, in the summer at any one time there were more than 150,000 holidaymakers in Blackpool, and there were very large crowds indeed paying at the turnstiles of Blackpool Cricket Club.

Every season, moreover, the Blackpool pro was given a benefit match.Illustrating the value of the Blackpool job, Alley was succeeded as Blackpool's pro by many of the all-time greats of the game.

These included Sir Conrad Hunte, Garfield Sobers, Pankaj Roy, Hanif Mohammad and Rohan Kanhai.Playing only 2 days a week would also have given the pro the opportunity to take a second job if he had so wanted, including playing for a Minor County or a first class County Second Eleven.

Alley was eventually tempted into joining Somerset CCC in 1957, when he was 38, since they offered a 3-year contract, while Blackpool could not commit to one of such length.

Alley played 350 first-class games for Somerset, the last one being when he was 49.After stopping playing, he umpired first-class games for 16 years and also stood in 10 Test matches and 9 One Day Internationals as umpire.

He so loved the West Country area of England that he chose to remain there after retirement rather than move back to his native Australia.

Alley was married to Betty, whom he met when playing cricket in the north of England, and they had two sons.

His first wife died in childbirth; they had a son, who died in an Army accident.

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