Freddie Trueman was born, some would say quarried at Stainton in Yorkshire on February 6th, 1931. Thirty-three years later, on August 15th, at the Oval he became the first man in the history of cricket to take 300 wickets in Test Matches. He was asked if he thought the feat would ever be repeated. Characteristically he replied, “Aye, but whoever does it will be bloody tired.” This comment reveals the essence of the man. A touch of belligerence, a hint of humility, a pinch of roughness and an overriding sense of humor: a Yorkshire-man from the ends of his unruly hair to the tips of his pigeon-toes who felt controversy at his elbow throughout his career.
His debut was in 1949 and he was capped for Yorkshire in 1951. He did a spell of National Service in the RAF which somewhat retarded his cricket development. In his early days his natural hostility earned him the nickname ”fiery Fred”. From the first his run-up was curving and long but nicely modulated. The final stride had a pronounced drag which caused some difficulties later when the front-foot rule was introduced. The arm washigh and the movement of the ball was pre-dominantly away from the bat. Allied to this was a burning desire to see all batsmen back in the pavilion as rapidly as possible. He found his early Test opponents, India, easy meat. They retreated and he chased them remorse-lessly.
Overseas he found wickets harder to come by and he was not an automatic selection for all tours. Tyson and Statham brought back the Ashes from Australia in 1954-55. His forth-right views and colorful language did not always find favor with the selectors either.
However, control of temperament came with maturity. A boundary off his bowling did not always signal a bouncer next ball and the worker was introduced as a potent weapon. He learnt that sheer pace was only one facet of the job. The advent of full television coverage of Test matches made him a national figure. Every glower and gesture marked him down as “a great character” in the game. He played for laughs on occasions and found them easy to get. His cricketing skill did not end with the ball. His batting could be demoralizing for any fielding side but his concentration frequently cracked under the pressure to please the crowd. A safe catcher and a brilliant ambidextrous thrower, he made life very easy for his captain to place him advantageously in the field. One of his most endearing personal traits is a fantastic memory for any game in which he had played. He can almost recite his 300 Test wickets, victim, by victim. Not the least of his gifts is a pungent turn of phrase. Cricket and the Anglo-Saxon tongue have been enriched by his presence.