Born November 11, 1942 in Blairmont, East Bank, Berbice, Guyana (then British Guiana), Roy Fredericks was a former West Indies opening batsman who played between 1968 and 1977. Standing at just five feet six inches, Fredericks was considered one of the most destructive left-handed batsmen of his time. He often annihilated the best pace bowlers of his generation. He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1974. This Guyanese accumulated 4,334 runs in 59 Tests at an average of 42.49 with 8 hundreds and 26 fifties. Fredericks played only 12 ODIs in which he averaged 25.91. On his birth anniversary, Bhaskar Narayan takes a look at 15 lesser known facts of this cricketer who passed away 15 years ago.
1. Born in British Guiana
Roy Fredericks was born in 1942 in what was then British Guiana, South America. The country was a British colony at that time until it became a sovereign nation on May 26, 1966. Fredericks made his Test debut two-and-a-half years later against Australia on December 26, 1968.
2. Unbeaten century in first county match
Fredericks got an offer from Glamorgan, and made 145 not out in his first appearance for them in 1971. He also chipped in with the ball by taking 5 wickets. He got his county cap after this match. He was the second player (after Frank Pinch in 1921) to score a hundred on Glamorgan debut.
[Note: Interestingly, of the 10 men to have scored hundreds on Glamorgan debut, 6 have been overseas players — Fredericks, Javed Miandad, Younis Ahmed, Viv Richards, Mark Cosgrove, and Brendon McCullum.]
3. Highest partnership for Glamorgan
Fredericks and his opening partner Alan Jones once added 330 against Northamptonshire at Swansea, Wales. This was the highest partnership for any wicket for Glamorgan at that time. Fredericks scored 228 but ended up on the losing side.
[Note: The record for the opening stand is currently 374, between Matthew Elliott and Steve James. For any wicket it is an unbroken 425 between Viv Richards and Adrian Dale.]
4. Long wait for first Test century
Freddo, as he was fondly called by his teammates, made his first Test hundred in his 15th match. The match was played against New Zealand at Sabina Park on February 16, 1972. Fredericks, 29 at that time, made a brilliant 163 in the first innings to help West Indies register a mammoth 508 for 4. The Test was a high-scoring encounter and ended in a draw.
5. Famous hit-wicket
In the final of World Cup 1975 against Australia at Lord’s, Fredericks tried his forte, the hook, on Dennis Lillee. The shot was timed so well that it soared over long-leg dispatching the ball landed outside the ground into St John’s Wood Road. However, he trod on the stumps and was out hit wicket.
6. The iconic 169 against Australia at Perth
Fredericks was a destructive batsman; if balls were to be counted during his time he could had been one of the quickest. He played a blistering match-winning knock of 169 on a lightning fast pitch of Perth in 1975. Add to it, Australia had the likes of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. Fredericks took the duo on from the word go. His innings had his trademark hook shot and at the same time beautifully timed cuts and the cover drive. He reached his century off just 71 balls, the second-quickest of that time after Jack Gregory’s 67-ball assault. He went on to make 169 off 145 deliveries. Till date it is regarded as one of the best knocks played in Test cricket and the quickest against Australia in their own backyard. However, Australians won the series 5-1 and this was the only Test that the West Indies won.
7. Tale behind the flamboyant 169-run knock
There is an interesting story behind his scintillating 169-run knock. West Indies’ opener Gordon Greenidge was dropped owing to a pair in the previous Test. No West Indies batsman wanted to face the red cherry against Lillee and Thomson in this match. No. 11 Lance Gibbs offered to open the innings. It was finally decided that Bernard Julien will open the innings with Fredericks. The rest is history.
8. Great fielder but poor runner between the wickets
Fredericks was considered one of the finest fielders of his time. The testimony to this is his 62 Test catches and 177 First-Class catches. He fielded at gully, point and slip. Most great fielders are good runners between the wickets, but Fredericks was not.
9. Brian Lara’s cricket idol
Fredericks inspired the next generation legendary West Indies batsman Brian Lara. Besides Fredericks, Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge were also Lara’s cricket idols as he was growing up.
10. Known as Kid Cement
Fredericks was nicknamed ‘Kid Cement’ as he was fearless, tough and had a relentless approach towards batting.
11. Often called others “old chap”
Fredericks had a habit of calling people and fellow cricketers “old chap” during conversations. He often called his contemporaries like Alan Jones and Wilfred Wooller “old chap”.
12. Brilliant end games
Fredericks averaged a staggering 63.83 for Guyana. In his last two matches for his home team against Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica, he made 103 and 207 respectively. Before this match Fredericks was also Junior Minister for Youth and Sports in the left-wing Government run by Forbes Burnham, the Guyanese dictator credited for fighting nationalism in the South American nation.
13. After retirement
After calling it a day, Fredericks played in Kerry Packer’s World Series cricket. Later on, he also served as the minister of sport and administrator with the Guyana Cricket Board. He became a selector after it and also coached budding cricketers.
14. In Colin Croft’s West Indies team of all time
Colin Croft included Fredericks in his all time best West Indies team.
15. Battle with cancer
Fredericks battled throat cancer for a long time. He had throat surgery two years prior to his death on September 5, 2000 in a New York hospital.