Fredericks The Fearless Champ
Across The Board
September 10, 2000
WEST INDIES and world cricket lost another of its great servants when former Guyana and West Indies opening batsman and selector Roy Fredericks died on Tuesday after a long illness. Fredericks, who was 57, died in hospital in New York almost two years after he had surgery for throat cancer.
A lot could be learned from the life and career of a man who was uncompromising in his commitment to West Indies cricket.
It pained him to see the West Indies struggle and one of the final interviews he gave with Garth Whatley of the Trinidad Express, in May, should serve as food for thought for all West Indies players and fans.
He focused not on himself but on how to get West Indies cricket back to its former level of greatness.
In part of the story Whatley wrote: “What has changed little is Fredericks’ passion for the game that can keep him talking for hours. He is certain about the problem with present-day West Indian cricketers.
“It’s just a matter of commitment and pride,” he says. “I think that is one of our problems. The players today don’t give me the impression they are that committed to the game or to the public as we used to be.”
The criticism seems a bit harsh, especially for the squad that Jimmy Adams now leads. But Freddo is not an easy man to please.
“What I would like to see more of from the youngsters,” he says, “is the time they spend at the wicket. They are not staying long enough at the wicket!
“I get the impression they are not learning fast enough.”
“Practice is not all,” he continues, his voice straining. “You have to think about the cricket! You have to think about the way you get out. The fellows get out the same way all the time!”
For Roy Fredericks the cricket pitch was his battlefield and on it he waged war against some of the best bowlers in the world and, more often than not, he was victorious.
It was amazing that a man of his small stature could prove to be intimidating to bowlers who towered over him.
He played in 59 Test matches between 1968 and 1978, scoring 4 334 runs at an average of 42.49, with eight centuries and 27 fifties.
In the midst of this was one of the greatest innings ever played in Test cricket.
It came in 1975 in Australia when, like now, the West Indies were going through a period of rebuilding. Australia were the best team in the world and, in Dennis Lillie and Jeff Thompson, they had two of the fastest and most fearsome bowlers ever to play Test cricket.
Fredericks refused to bow to them. His pride in West Indies cricket and his belief in his own ability would not allow him to.
In the second Test of the series, at Perth, he made a blistering 169 off 145 balls, including a hurricane hundred before lunch in just 71 balls as he cut and hooked Lillie and Thompson with impudence.
After he retired from Test cricket, Fredericks served for several years as an administrator with the Guyana Cricket Board, a West Indies selector and minister of sports in Guyana.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) takes this opportunity to extend its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Roy Fredericks.
The elite brotherhood of West Indies cricket is the poorer for his passing. May he rest in peace.
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