Phil DeFreitas September 21, 2013

'Be a batsman and a legspinner'

Interview by Jack Wilson
Phil DeFreitas has some gloomy advice for young fast bowlers

First time I hurt a batsman
It was on an England Under-19 tour to the West Indies in 1985. I bowled a bouncer to Zorol Barthley, who was opening at the time, and it hit him right on the head. He was wearing a helmet, but I think the ball might have gone through it. It was not a nice feeling at all, seeing someone like that, but he's been a very good friend ever since. Carl Hooper and Jimmy Adams were on the same side as him too that day.

First time I got stick from a crowd
We were playing at Middlesborough and it was one of my early games for Leicestershire. I was fielding on the boundary and some people in the crowd started throwing bananas at me. I was 18, it was horrendous and I was in tears. I remember our overseas player at the time, Winston Benjamin, swapped with me and I went in closer to the middle. They started throwing them at him and he picked one up and launched it back. I wish I'd done the same, but I was young and pretty naive at the time.

First time I was overawed in a dressing room
I was at the MCC as a ground-staff boy and I ended up playing for their second team. I was taken into the changing room there one day when I must have been 16 or 17, and it was full of stars. The likes of Wayne Daniel, Norman Cowans, Simon Hughes, Graham Barlow, Clive Radley, Mike Gatting and John Emburey were all there. It was unbelievable. These were people I'd grown up watching and there I was in the dressing room with them. I remember after I signed for Leicester meeting David Gower and Peter Willey, who were really big names themselves.

First Test match
It was in an Ashes and it was pretty much the perfect Test. We batted first and scored quite a lot of runs. I was pleased we didn't bowl first, as I felt quite nervous beforehand. I batted a long time with Ian Botham, who made 130-odd, and I had the best view in the house. We kept having chats in the middle at the end of overs and I didn't know what to say. I just kept saying, "Well done, keep going", and he did!

First piece of advice for a young fast bowler
Be a batsman and a legspinner. It's easier!

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