Today we remember Roy Fredericks’ never-say-die attitude
By Edwin Seeraj
September 5, 2003
TODAY, September 5, 2003 marks three years since the former Guyana, West Indies and Glamorgan opening batsman Roy Clifton Fredericks took his final walk from the batting crease to the Great Beyond.
Having retired from Test cricket, somewhat prematurely in 1977, he worked in various capacities, including tenure as Minister of Sport under the Forbes Burnham-led government and cricket coach at the National Sports Development Council under the present regime.
Fredericks was one of the top West Indies opening batsmen and certainly the best of his time. This is evident from the fact that during his Test career of 59 Tests between 1968 and 1977 he opened the batting with no fewer than 14 partners as the selectors tried desperately to find the right man at the other end.
He opened the batting with Stephen Camacho, Joey Carew, Rohan Kanhai, Desmond Lewis, Geoffrey Greenidge, Maurice Foster, Deryck Murray, Ron Headley, Lawrence Rowe, Gordon Greenidge, Leonard Baichan, Bernard Julien, Alvin Kallicharran and Vivian Richards.
Fredericks was such a fearless and dynamic player, willing to take the attack to any bowler, sending his supporters in ecstasy as the ball rocketed from his bat to the boundary, and the bowler, more often that not would reluctantly walk back to his mark not mindful of bowling again.
His 169 at Perth on a lightning fast pitch in 1975-76 against Denis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Gary Gilmour and Max Walker, when he tore into the attack from the word go, prompted a headline on the Daily Chronicle “West Indian batsmen tame Australian Beasts”.
The former Jamaican and West Indies fastman Uton Dowe; the Barbadian West Indian pacer Vanburn Holder and Keith Boyce, the Englishman Geoff Arnold and Chris Old and the Pakistanis Sarfraz Nawaz and Sikander Bakht are some of the bowlers that can testify of the skill and power of Roy Fredericks’ blade.
Not that ‘Freddo’ couldn’t play the slower stuff or slow a game down as a matter of fact. In 1973, at Edgbaston, England, he made 150 in eight and a half hours in a drawn Test - a series West Indies won 2-nil. The press of the day took him to task but our hero was fully in charge, batting to keep the Englishmen at bay going into the Lord’s Test.
Of his 8 Test centuries and 4 334 runs, three were scored on turning pitches. In 1974-75 he made an exact 100 in Calcutta and 104 in Bombay against the likes of Chandrasekar, Prasanna, Bedi and Venkataraghavan.
At the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago he made 120 against Pakistan’s Intikhab Alam, Iqbal Qasim and Mustaq Mohammed.
In other first-class cricket the diminutive left-hander registered centuries on each innings of a game thrice. In 1967 versus Barbados at Bourda he made 127 and 115; against Australia’s Ian Chappel’s men in 1973 he scored 158 and 118 for Guyana; and followed up with 112 and an unbeaten 105 against England in 1974 also at Bourda.
Such was Freddo’s quick footwork and hawk-like eyes that the-then English captain Mike Denness remarked “If you let go a bullet from a gun he’ll hit it.”
Fredericks played very little One-Day International Cricket but he was the first West Indian to register a century in One-day International (ODI). He did so against England in 1973.
And what of his hook off Dennis Lillee’s first ball that went out of the ground in the first-ever World Cup! Finally, in 1975, unfortunately, he fell on his wicket after executing the shot and departed without scoring.
Such was the mettle of the man. He played with gusto.
Former West Indian captain, fellow Guyanese, Clive Lloyd, said of Fredericks in his book Living For Cricket: “Freddo is one of the best opening batsmen we have ever possessed”
Today as we remember his passing let us as sportsmen and women be influenced by his fighting qualities and never-say-die attitude so that we could be propelled to achieve the highest levels in our respective disciplines.