Frederick Fryer


FRYER, MR. FREDK. EUSTACE READE, born at Holbrook Suffolk, January 7, 1849, died in London, October 1. Harrow XI, 1867 and 1868; Cambs. XI, 1870 to 1873; captain in 1873: Suffolk 1867-83; Gentlemen v. Players, 1873-75; member of M. C. C. since 1878.

F. E. R. Fryer flourished at a time when University cricket was amazingly rich in talent, and when it attracted more public attention than in later days of numberless county matches. Among the Oxford and Cambridge batsman of his day he was not the best, never reaching the level of Yardley and Ottaway, but he stood very high in the brilliant group that came nearest to those two masters--both so great in their utterly different styles. Upright, easy and graceful, Fryer was a beautiful bat to watch--as attractive to look at as Lionel Palairet in our own time--but he wanted a good wicket. Playing a very forward game he had not the strength of defence demanded by the wickets at Lord's in the'70's. He played finely in his second match for Harrow against Eton, scoring 31 and not out 33 in 1868, but after his second days Lord's was emphatically not his ground. His best score in four University matches was 46 in 1872, and on that occasion Oxford's bowling had been mastered by Longman and Tabor before he went in. In Cambridge's matches with the M. C. C. at Lord's he failed lamentably. On the other hand he could on the true-playing wickets at the Oval and Cambridge hold his own in any company. Of the eleven scores of fifty or more credited to him in Bat v. Ball, four were obtained at Fenner's and three at the Oval. Brilliant leg hitting was always a feature of his play. I should fancy that the innings of his life was his 76 in the Gentlemen and Players of the South match at the Oval in 1871. That was a wonderful game, the Players winning--ten minutes from time--by three runs. The Gentlemen were left to get 249 in the last innings, and their chance seemed gone when they had lost five wickets--those of W. G. Grace, Walter Hadow, Yardley, Fred Grace, and I. D. Walker--for 53 runs. C. I. Thornton, however, gave a display of hitting that was extraordinary even for him, scoring 61 in forty-seven minutes, and finishing up with a six, a four, and three fives. The boundary did not extend all round the Oval in those days. The game underwent such a change that with Fryerand GeorgeStrachan well set the Gentlemen had three wickets to fall and required only 15 runs to win. Then for the first time in the innings Southerton was put on at the Gas Works end. He bowled down the last three wickets and won the match! I gather from the description in Wisden for 1872 that of all the magnificent batting in the match nothing surpassed Fryer's innings of 76. In 1870 at the Oval Fryer was concerned in another remarkable game, he and Yardley giving Cambridge a victory over Surrey by eight wickets. Fryer made 69 not out and Yardley 90 not out, the two batsman scoring 143 runs together after two wickets had fallen for 27. In the University match Fryer was on the winning side against Oxford in 1870 and 1872 and on the losing side in 1871 and 1873. He was captain of the Cambridge eleven in 1873, but he scarcely excelled in leadership. At any rate he took a dark bowler up to Lord's and only allowed him to bowl two overs in a hard-fought match that Oxford won by three wickets.

With regard to the memorable match in 1870, Mr. Herbert Troughton, who remembers every incident in the Oxford and Cambridge matches of the last fifty years or more, sends me a very interesting note. He writes Playing as he did in the immortal 1870 match, Mr. Fryer was responsible for an incident for which he has never received the credit due to him. For without this incident the magnificent batting of Dale and Yardley would have been in vain, and Cobden's sensational " hat trick" would have been impossible. This is the incident to which I refer. Oxford had gone in requiring 178 to win the match, and had scored 160 for four wickets, Ottaway being in and so well set that he looked as if he would never be got out. With the score 160 Ottaway hit a short one from Ward very hard indeed, and very low indeed, to Fryer, who was fielding at short leg, rather deep. Falling on his knees Fryer managed to grip and hold the ball, not more than a couple of inches from the ground. So low down was the catch made, that Ottaway appealed, but the umpire's decision was against the batsman, and Ottaway departed. Of the great merit of the catch there can be no question, and in my opinion it did as much for winning Cambridge the match as Dale and Yardley's batting, or Cobden's phenomenal hat trick. After leaving Cambridge, Fryer kept up his cricket for a good many seasons, dropping out quietly in the 80s. In 1878 he played for C. I. Thorton's Eleven against the Australians at the Orleans Club and, facing the bowling of Spofforth and Frank Allan for the first time, scored 61 in his best style. His only hundred in first class matches was 102 for Cambridge University v. Gentlemen of Lancashire at Cambridge in 1871. In the later years of his life Fryer took up golf with enthusiasm and became a first-rate player--one of the best, I believe, in his own district.

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