After the close of the 1936 season, the engagement of A.P. Freeman with the Kent County Club was not renewed. The acceptance of an offer from Walsall, a Birmingham and District League club, suggests that Freeman will not play any more county cricket; so an epitome of his career is opportune. One of the smallest first-class players, he became a great slow bowler by the diverse way he found to spin and flight the ball with his strong right hand.
Born on May 17, 1889, at Lewisham, Freeman played first for Kent in 1914 when 25 years of age, and the break in county cricket until 1919 delayed the development of his full powers until the completion of his 30th year.
This prolonged hindrance makes his aggregate of 3,775 wickets taken in first-class cricket all the more remarkable. Wilfred Rhodes, with 4,184 wickets, alone has surpassed this figure, and the Yorkshire slow left-hander, starting when 20, accomplished this from 1898 to 1930--29 seasons, compared with Freeman's 19.
Freeman's record is specially noteworthy because all but 29 of his wickets -- his measure of success in 1914 -- were taken after he had passed his 30th year. Nearly all his best work has been accomplished for Kent, and his bowling in the six seasons 1928-1933, when 1,673 wickets fell to him, was little short of astounding.
As he continued to dismiss 200 or more batsmen in each season, his aggregate number of victims during the eight seasons ending 1935 was 2,090, no fewer than 1,754 in county matches.
In 1928 he began this period of phenomenal success by taking 304 wickets, beating the record of 290 set up by Tom Richardson, of Surrey, in 1895. In 1933 Freeman claimed 298 wickets and, besides these two best achievements by an English bowler, these figures stand to his name -- 276, 275, 267 and 253 in a season. In County Championship matches he took over 200 wickets six times, including 252 in 1933, and once his figure was 199.
Of the twelve times that 250 or more wickets have fallen to a bowler in a season, Freeman is credited with exactly half; Richardson and Rhodes accomplished the feat twice; J.T. Hearne and C.T.B. Turner, the Australian, once each.
Freeman is the only bowler who has taken ten wickets in an innings three times -- all these instances occurring after he had turned forty.
It must be admitted that Freeman proved disappointing when tried in cricket of the very highest class. He never appeared in a Test match against Australia at home and only twice in Australia, in 1924-25, when he was exceedingly expensive.
Freeman did well in the three tests with West Indies in 1928, taking 22 wickets at 13.72 each, but he fared moderately against South Africa 1927-28 and in 1929. He appeared for the Players at Lord's in five matches from 1924 to 1932.
As a batsman he rarely accomplished much and seldom had a double-figure batting average for the season, but strangely enough he played one of his highest innings -- 50 not out -- in a Test match at Sydney. His best scores in England were 66 for Kent v. Lancashire at Manchester in 1925, and 51 not out for Kent against Sussex at Hastings in 1926. He always fielded well, and sometimes brilliantly, at cover point.