Doug Walters on Fred Trueman

Being Freddie

The floppy-haired fast bowler who became a batsman's idol

Hair-raising: Trueman bowls in 1953 © Getty Images

When I played backyard cricket as a kid, my brother and sister always got to pick first who they would play as, since they were older. They always opted for Australians and I had to be Colin Cowdrey or Ted Dexter or Garfield Sobers, the other heroes of that era.

Back then I used to have more success with the ball than the bat, and Freddie Trueman became my childhood model. I only heard about him on the radio and read about him in the papers, but that was enough. I used to have long hair that would flop in the fashion of Trueman's as I charged up the wicket to bowl - only, the comparison ended once I got to the crease.

The radio broadcasters in those days were pretty good at describing exactly what went on, and listening to them helped me shape my imitations. Later, when television arrived and I looked at a short film of Freddie, I thought I had done pretty damn well.

The similarities were not lost on my mates. Ian Redpath was the first to start calling me Freddie, a couple of years after I got into the Australian team. By the time I went to England to play in my first Ashes in 1968, Trueman was still around - not as a Test bowler anymore, but he played against us in our tour game against Yorkshire.

Even if I became known as a batsman, I'll remember those days when I tried to be Trueman.

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine