Angus Fraser: 11 interesting things to know about the gentle giant of English cricket

Angus Fraser, born August 8, 1965 is a former England pace bowler, selector, journalist, and administrator. He played 46 Tests and 42 ODIs for England between 1989 and 1999. On his 52nd birthday, Shiamak Unwalla looks at 10 interesting things to know about the gentle giant of English cricket. [Also Read: Angus Fraser: Life and times]

1. The ‘Gentle Giant’: Standing at an intimidating 6’7” Fraser looked every bit the menacing fast bowler. But where someone like Curtly Ambrose used his size and aggression to intimidate batsmen, Fraser simply put his height to physical use; he rarely showed any anger, almost never had a go at the batsman, and was almost poker-faced throughout his career. Instead he relied on unwavering accuracy, once saying, “I spent 95 per cent of my career bowling the same ball.” He also said that the wickets column was not in a bowler’s control, but the runs column was.

2. Cricket in the family: Angus’ younger brother Alastair played 10 First-Class and 30 List A matches for Essex and Middlesex. Standing at just 6’1” Alastair was dwarfed by his elder brother, both in height and capability.

3. Impressive on debut: Fraser showed a sign of things to come on Test debut, against Australia at Edgbaston in 1989. Australia batted first, amassing 424. While Graham Dilley, Paul Jarvis, and even Ian Botham were taken for runs, Fraser bowled a terrific spell of 33-8-63-4, including the wickets of Dean Jones (157), Steve Waugh (43), Ian Healy (2), and Geoff Lawson (12). The match ended in a draw, but Fraser had given the world a glimpse of his impeccable line and length that was to be a permanent arrow in his arsenal.

4. West Indies basher: Something about playing against West Indies — who were no longer the legendarily unstoppable as they were the 1980s, but still more than a challenge — brought out the best in Fraser. In 17 Tests against them he took 70 wickets at 23.70 with five fifers and a 10-for. His record in West Indies is even better: 54 wickets in 12 matches at 20.29. His top two spells in Test cricket — 8 for 53 and 8 for 75 — came at Port of Spain and Bridgetown respectively.

5. Calming Lara down: Fraser was one of the England bowlers who bore the brunt of Brian Lara’s epic 375. He later narrated an incident in which he told an anxious Lara to settle down and not throw away the chance to make history. Speaking to Cricinfo, Fraser said, “I beat the bat a couple of times when Lara was in the 340s. He had a swish at me. I told him not to throw it away. There was a point when a part of you hoped he’d do it. You perhaps don’t want it on your CV, but you also want to be part of the history of the game.” Fraser has since implied that Lara was the best batsman he played against.

6. Messages on the bat: The downside of being a less-than-great batsman was that Fraser never got a lucrative sponsorship deals. Rather than accepting a small sum, he preferred to bat without a sponsor. “I can’t be arsed with this, keeping these bat manufacturers happy, so I started to use blank bats and would put messages on the back — “G’day, Richie” and stuff like that for the stump camera.”

7. Inexplicable team selection: It was said that Fraser and Ray Illingworth — then chief selector — did not see eye to eye. That, coupled with a few injury concerns, saw Fraser play a mere 46 Tests in a decade-long career. Illingworth often dropped Fraser with no solid reason, once doing so in such a way that Fraser only found out about his dropping from the TV.

8.  England Selector: In an ironic twist of fate, having been kept out of the team due to selection discrepancies for much of his playing career, Fraser was later made one of England’s selectors in 2014 and still performs that role.

9.  Post-playing days: After retiring from First-Class cricket, Fraser became a journalist with The Independent, and later served as Middlesex’s Managing Director of Cricket, a post he still holds as of 2015.

10.  Honours abound: Fraser was named one of Wisden’s cricketers of the year in 1996, and received an MBE for his contribution to cricket in 1998.

11. Against ‘Brexit’: In 2016, Great Britain left the European Union as voters have been in favour of ‘Brexit’. Fraser was livid with the decision and took to Facebook, where he wrote, “I never thought I’d say it publicly but I am embarrassed to be English today. More embarrassed than when I see football thugs kicking the shit out of European cities. The leave vote and the people who pushed for it represent nothing I or my family stand for.

This is a very sad day for our country and I fear for the road we are going down. Great Britain has overnight become little Britain, a selfish, small minded, insular place that I struggle to have any pride in. Good luck to those who put us in this position but don’t expect any help from me..”

(Shiamak Unwalla is a proud Whovian and all-round geek who also dabbles in cricket writing as a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)