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William (Bill) Edward Alley (born 3 February 1919 in Sydney, Australia; died 26 November 2004 in Taunton, Somerset, England) 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. Later 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 nine years before joining Somerset when he was 38. He played his last and 350th first class game for Somerset 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, who he met when playing cricket in the north of England, and they had two sons. His first wife died in childbirth, a son, who died in an Army accident.
Alley was an all-rounder. He scored 19,612 runs at an average of 31.88 batting left handed. He took 768 wickets at 22.68 runs per wicket, with a best of 8 for 65 bowling right arm medium fast. He also took 267 catches in the field. His best season was his testimonial season in 1961 when he scored over 3,000 runs for Somerset and achieved his highest score of 221 not out. His 10 centuries for Somerset in 1961 remained a county record for thirty years. In 1962 he received the honour of being one of Wisden's five cricketers of the year, making over 1,900 runs and taking 112 wickets. It was in 1962 that he got his best bowling return of 8 for 65 against a strong Surrey side that included Ken Barrington, Peter May and Bernard Constable .
Peter Robinson, who played cricket together with Alley at Somerset said: "Bill was as hard as nails, fearless. He never wore a thigh pad and would bowl at one end and field close to the bat at the other. There canít be many better cricketers who didnít appear in Test cricket."
Roy Kerslake, the former Somerset captain said: "I played alongside Bill in 1968 when I skippered the side and he was the senior professional. He was a fantastic cricketer and a great competitor and was very helpful to me as a very young captain. In the annals of Somerset cricket he had become a legend in his own time and he will be sadly missed by all who knew him."
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