The former England and Surrey batsman John Edrich has died aged 83. Edrich played 77 Tests from 1963 to 1976 and appeared in the world’s first one-day international in 1971 against Australia, hitting the first boundary.
Edrich achieved a Test average of 43.54 and went on to serve as an England selector and batting coach. He famously scored 310 not out against New Zealand in the third Test at Headingley in July 1965.
It August 2000 it was announced that Edrich had incurable leukaemia. “I hadn’t seen a doctor for about 10 years,” Edrich said. “But I’d been feeling tired for a while. Having taken blood tests, they discovered leukaemia. It was quite a shock. You can’t fight it. You have to have faith in your consultant and the treatment.”
Edrich, who scored 33 not out while batting with two broken ribs in the fourth Ashes Test of the 1974-75 series in Australia after being struck by Dennis Lillee, made 5,138 runs in Tests.
He scored 103 centuries in a career that saw him captain Surrey for five seasons in the 1970s before retiring from the game in 1978. He was awarded an MBE in 1977.
Tributes were swiftly paid. Ian Botham tweeted: “Very sad news today to wake up on Christmas Day and to be told that John Edrich has passed away !! A wonderful man who I was lucky enough to spend some quality time with…RIP”
Another former England international, Mark Butcher, himself a former Surrey player, described Edrich on Twitter as a Surrey legend. Edrich had a year as president of the county in 2006 and the club said the flag over the pavilion would fly at half mast on Christmas Day.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s CEO, Tom Harrison. said: “With John’s passing, we’ve lost a prolific and fearless batsman – one of the select few who have scored more than 5,000 runs for England.
“His duels with some of the world’s best fast bowlers were legendary, and it’s a testament to his ability that his 310 not out against New Zealand in 1965 remains the fifth-highest Test score by an English batsman. He will be sadly missed, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Geoff Boycott selected Edrich, with whom he opened the batting for England, in his best England-Australia XI in series he had played in.
He wrote in the Telegraph in 2010: “John had one of the greatest temperaments I have ever seen: he could play and miss and it wouldn’t bother him one jot. As with Herbert Sutcliffe, it was impossible to fluster him.”
Edrich’s bravery as a batsman was underlined against the West Indies at Old Trafford in 1976 when he opened the batting with Brian Close and was left bruised by the bowling of Andy Roberts, Wayne Daniel and Michael Holding.
Wisden wrote: “The period before the close of the third day brought disquieting cricket as Edrich and Close grimly defended their wickets and themselves against fast bowling, which was frequently too wild and too hostile to be acceptable.”
Edrich, then aged 39, was out for 24 and never played a Test for England again.
Surrey’s chairman, Richard Thompson, said: “John Edrich was truly one of the greatest players to ever play for our club and his passing is an incredibly sad moment for us all. From watching his brave and charismatic batting to sitting alongside him in our Committee Room and learning about the game, to have been able to call John a friend was a high honour.”