Cricketers pick their favourites

'A big heart, strong, always fun'

Part three: Fred Trueman, the first bowler to 300 Test wickets had the perfect action, and he was always up for the challenge (00:00)

Producer: Ranjit Shinde

February 21, 2012


Fred Trueman

'A big heart, strong, always fun'

February 21, 2012

Fred Trueman makes his entrance during a stand-up comedy stint, Stockton-on-Tees, February 4, 1969
"His banter just kept everybody alive in the team " © Getty Images

Freddie Trueman, Yorkshire and England, was a great fast bowler and raconteur. He is an iconic figure. Legendary, actually. And I think he had the most perfect sideways-on action that I have ever seen. He swung the ball out at great pace. If you can think of Waqar Younis swinging it in, Fred actually swung it out, which is much more difficult.

I first came across him when I was 11. He made his debut for England in 1952, at Headingley, Yorkshire, and he was playing against India. And I remember it because Alec Bedser got a wicket in the first over and the score was 0 for 1, and Fred in his second over got two wickets in five balls against India. The score was 0 for 4. I remember because when Fred got his third wicket a guy in the crowd bought all of us ice-creams.

I have followed his career ever since. I have been a fan of his. He was an iconic figure, and I was lucky enough to play with him at Yorkshire in the early sixties to mid-sixties. He was the first player to get 300 Test match wickets. Remember, you didn't play that many Test matches those days. He got his wickets at round about 21. He bowled at a lot of great players, and as he said himself, he never had the opportunity to bowl against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and teams which aren't very strong. He bowled in the West Indies against the three Ws, Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai and Conrad Hunte. He said, "Once we bowled for four sessions and never got a wicket on those flat pitches."

He was a great bowler - big heart, strong. Came from the mining community. He was blessed with great shoulders, a narrow waist and nice backside. So the power was there. And the narrowness of waist, so he could turn and get very sideways-on in a perfect action. He was always strong, always up for the challenge. He was very rarely injured - very rare for the fast bowlers; you just have to look at today's bowlers. I just think he was truly great.

Playing with him was fun. I always tried to get around him, to mid-on or mid-off, and listen to his banter. He was never nasty to the umpires or batsmen, but he always chirped. He had something to say and usually it was funny or humorous. I think of today where they sometimes get in altercations and slagging each other off - bowlers and batsmen. Fred never did that. But umpires and opposition players would laugh because he always had something to say.

Whenever he got a wicket, it would always swing in, pitch and leave the batsman - it was the magic ball. Or it would swing out, pitch and nip back. It was never a straight ball. And obviously as a fast bowler sometimes you just bowl straight balls and they are too fast for the batsmen.

He would just be humorous and funny, and I think his banter just kept everybody alive in the team when you played with him

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