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July 1, 2006
A classical easy action, a mop of unruly jet-black hair and a menacing scowl were the trademarks of Trueman, who was the first man from any country to take 300 Test wickets, a landmark he reached at The Oval in 1964. Since then many have gone past his overall figure of 307, but few have matched his average (21.57) and strike rate (a wicket every 49 balls).
Trueman's tally might have been nearer 400 if he hadn't missed numerous matches and tours because of various disciplinary breaches, some true, some imagined - he was once hauled before the Yorkshire committee for some misdemeanour, and escaped punishment by pointing out that he was 200 miles away playing for England at the time. But on his day Trueman was fast and frightening: in his first Test series, in 1952, he helped reduce India to 0 for 4 on his debut, and took 8 for 31 - the best Test bowling figures by a genuinely fast bowler at the time - in the third match. In the second half of the '50s he formed an incisive new-ball pairing with Brian Statham, the legendarily accurate loose-limbed Lancastrian, who raced him neck-and-neck to the 250-wicket mark.
A natural raconteur whose stories grew taller with every telling, he was a radio summariser for the BBC's Test Match Special commentary team for many years. His catchphrase became "I just don't know what's going off out there", and eventually his role as the curmudgeonly Tyke (he once observed that Ian Botham "couldn't bowl a hoop downhill") began to pall and he found himself - to his disgust - dropped once again.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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