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!

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    Why does everyone want to be a spinner nowadays?

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2013, 8:36 GMT

    I remember him playing an ODI on Nov. 22, 1987 against Pakistan at Peshawar. He hit Shoaib Muhammad with a bouncer just above the left eye. It was horrible watching from the VIP stands while he was being taken into the dressing room and blood gushing out ot the wound.

  • Ali on September 22, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    The last bit of advice isn't that great. It might be easier on the body but it is a much harder art to execute

  • Keith on September 22, 2013, 0:46 GMT

    I was at the Gabba and saw DeFreitas' first test innings. I think Botham got 138. A terrific day's cricket for an English fan, and the start of a great season for the team. :-)

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2013, 23:04 GMT

    I grew up a local Leicester lad, and remember Phil Defreitas well. Special memory, was being invited to throw down a few balls to Phil before the Cheltenham Festival vs. Gloucester (Gower and Willey got centuries from memory). Anyway, Phil was a great bloke, very polite, and kind and made me love cricket even more than I did as a kid. He really tried hard and put in huge effort much like Siddle. I agree with him, as would Australia's fast bowling fraternity if you want longevity, be a batsman or spin bowler!

  • Martin on September 21, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    Only a fast bowler could say be a leg-spinner, 'it's easier'!

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Yes another twenty years there will be a Shihan Sheroz '

  • Rod on September 21, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Phil, as an Australian supporter, I just wanted to say that in late January 1995 I was on a long drive in Australia (pretty common given the distance between our capitals) when you came to the wicket in Adelaide with England 6 down in the second innings and only about 120 ahead.

    The next hour and a half of that drive is etched forever in my memory as you played an extraordinary innings which gave your team first some respect, then a bit of a chance, and then actually won them the game. It was truly unforgettable and I would love to have seen it live or on TV, but the commentary over the car radio was fantastic - a match-changing innings and one of the great Ashes moments.

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    Be a legspinner? Doesn't sound like very sound advice from Phil. Hardest skill in the game. Less injuries perhaps but you won't get many overs unless you are any good!

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