DateLine: 1st July 2006
Fred Trueman died on July 1st, 2006, after a short battle with lung cancer. Trueman was by any measure one of the cricketing giants, both through his performances on the field, and the sheer force of his personality.
He was not a tall man, but his exceptionally broad shoulders in combination with his powerful, cartwheeling action enabled him to bowl at a searing pace in his younger days. "He had mental aggression, sheer courage, and a beautiful rhythmic action which built up from a rolling approach into an unforgettable long final stride with the body sideways-on" wrote Christopher Martin-Jenkins.
Trueman's best weapon was the ability to move the ball away from the batsman at speed. Adaptable to circumstances he ran through an Australian Test side in 1961 bowling cutters off a shortened run. One of the most aggressive bowlers seen on a cricket field, his belligerent attitude occasionally got him into trouble with umpires and management. In his early years he took wickets with sheer pace, notably on his Test debut when he devastated the 1952 Indian tourists at Headingley, reducing them to 0/4 in their 2nd innings
One of the great characters of the game, he had little understanding of cricket politics, and was left out of the England side on occasion for non-cricketing reasons. He took 29 wickets in his debut series at 13.31 against the 1952 Indians, and left Test cricket 13 years later with a then record 307 wickets at a strike rate of 49.4 and an average of 21.57. 2304 first class wickets came at an average of under 20. At Test level he was perhaps at his best when partnered with Brian Statham- both great bowlers of contrasting styles.
He was a useful hard-hitting lower order bat (with three first-class centuries), and a superb fieldsman, particularly at short leg. After he left Yorkshire, he played for Derbyshire in limited overs matches in 1972 and became a regular commentator on cricket and a notable TV personality. He published his autobiography in 2004 entitled “As it was” – a typically forthright tale, but also surprisingly revealing.
On a personal note, Fred took five wickets on the first day of cricket I ever watched, against Australia at Lord’s in 1964. I can still see in my mind’s eye is characteristic slightly curved run up to the wicket and delivery with arm high. Later that summer he dismissed Neil Hawke for his 300th Test wicket, as his career drew towards its end.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 Dave Liverman)