If I could offer you a free ticket to any day's play in the history of cricket, which would you pick?
THE MAGIC TICKET
Sitting here at my desk in the early hours of Tuesday morning, I know there is a long week's work ahead. And, looking out at the grey London landscape, I can't help but think of all the places I would rather be right now. Australia would be first among them, 36 years ago to the day, just so long as I had a seat at the Waca for the second day's play between Australia and West Indies.
Perth, 13 December 1975. Australia would have been an odd place to be at the time. The Federal elections were being held that very day. On the eve of the match Malcolm Fraser, prime minister in a minority coalition government, was caught in a rumpus outside Northcote town hall and was spat on and pelted with beer cans by a mob. More disturbingly still, there were real worries that the country was going to be affected by a beer drought, because of a strike at the Carlton & United breweries. And on the 13th itself a fire broke out in one of the new skyscrapers being built in downtown Perth, so the city sky was back with smoke.
The West Indians were providing the back page distraction from all this. They were not even supposed to be touring there that winter – South Africa were due to instead – but Australia had joined the sporting boycott against apartheid. West Indies, who had beaten Australia in the World Cup final that year, offered to step in to fill the empty summer schedule. They had been hammered in the first Test at Brisbane. Michael Manley, writing with the kind of schoolmasterly tone that you can only use if you have served as prime minister of your country for eight years, described it as a "disgraceful performance" in his History of West Indies Cricket. "Everybody was going for their shots as if it was a one-day game … wickets were literally thrown away."Read the full story
Bliss it must have been to be alive and in the Waca that morning, as Fredericks, slight in stature yet so severe in his strokeplay, dismantled one of the greatest fast bowling backs the game has known on one of the quickest pitches ever produced. Plenty of similar swashbuckling innings have been played, but rarely against a better attack or on a trickier surface. As Gideon Haigh put it: "It was a contest of two natures. The Australians knew no other way to bowl, and Fredericks favoured no other sort of batting."
yet some skunts would not pick this man in their WI IX!
I remember the Perth knock so well and those memories make the hair on the back of my neck stand-up. Roy Fredericks was one of the most fearless batsmen playing in the era before helmets and the body armour etc! I remember seeing him play against New Zealand and Australia as well as quite a few regional games, however it was in the games against the Australia that I came to realise that he was a brilliant player of pace/fast bowling.
He really ought to be counted amongst the greats and as for his "hooking" boy that was a joy to see! As a left hander myself I remember studying the MCC coaching manual regarding the execution of the hook shot and watching Fredericks play it was to observe poetry in motion. He would get into position so quickly and as I recall he was equally adept when hooking from inside and outside the line - and he hit the ball hard! Thanks for the memories!
Towards the latter stages of this walk down memory lane I remembered attending a coaching session run by Fredericks and him teasing me as he saw my frustration growing after being beaten on the forwad defensive a couple of times. And then finally after swinging the bat and connecting with one he grinned his broad smile at me and said, "Yuh feel good now, eh?". And as I replied in the affirmative he pointed out to me that in a real game I would have been caught at mid-off for nought.
If you will, stay with it till the end and look at the scoreboard and work out the scoring rate, and yes as Chappell said they were 8 ball overs, nonetheless 585 in 95.4 overs aint to be sneezed at. That was some knock. RIP Roy Fredericks.