A batsman of unique methods, at times eccentric but capable of innings of genius "Fred" Bakewell played only six times for England, and never against Australia. His stance gave no clue as to his stroke-making abilities - he stood facing almost square to the bowler in an exaggerated two-eyed stance, slightly crouched, and with his hands widely separated on the bat handle. Such an approach would naturally lead to a leg side back foot player, yet Bakewell was a magnificent cutter, and had a lovely off-drive. He was also a creative batsman and in often all too brief innings would display every stroke in the book, as well as some of his own invention. His defence was at first suspect, but rapidly improved. He was an exceptional fielder at short-leg, taking five catches on his debut, and later that season against Essex taking eight, and averaging over 30 per season in his brief career. He played for what was at the time a very weak Northamptonshire side, setting a county record with 246 against Nottinghamshire in 1933, then beating his own record in his next innings with 257. In the same year he made his only Test hundred, making an excellent 107 against a strong West Indies attack. Although unable to cement a place in the England side - an apparently lackadaisical exterior, combined with his unorthodoxy restricted his opportunities - he had made 31 first-class hundreds before his career ended prematurely. In 1936, playing against the eventual Champions, Derbyshire, he made a superb chanceless 241*, nearly taking Northants to an unlikely victory. On the return home, he was involved in a serious car accident. His team-mate Northway was killed, and Bakewell's arm was so severely injured that he never played first-class cricket again - he was just 27 at the time, and still might have made more of an impact at Test level given the chance.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)
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