England great Trueman passes away

Published: Saturday, July 1, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Leeds:England fast bowling great Fred Trueman has died at the age of 75, his wife announced.

"We lost Fred at 12.15pm (1115GMT) this afternoon," Veronica Trueman said on Saturday.

Yorkshire legend Trueman, the first man to take 300 Test wickets, against Australia at The Oval in 1964, was diagnosed with a form of lung cancer in May.

His final Test haul of 307 wickets was a world record which stood until 1976, when it was broken by West Indies off-spinner Lance Gibbs.

Trueman made his Yorkshire debut in 1949 and retired from first-class cricket 20 years later, having taken more than 2,000 wickets.

Although the massive growth in the number of Test matches since Trueman retired means several bowlers have surpassed his record, few have equalled his average of 21.57 or his strike-rate of a wicket every 49 balls.

He later became well-known as a broadcaster on BBC Radio's Test Match Special, where millions of listeners relished his catchphrase, "I just don't know what's going off out there," as he decried the state of the modern game.

Former Yorkshire and England captain Brian Close, who was in the Yorkshire team when Trueman made his debut in 1949 and went on to lead him in the county's hugely successful era in the 1960s, said cricket would be the poorer for Trueman's passing.

"I captained many great cricketers - but none finer," Close told reporters at Yorkshire's Headingley headquarters, where England were playing a One-day International against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

"Yorkshire has lost a great cricketer and a great character. He was a great wit - a lovely fellow, and we all enjoyed his company and playing with him."

And Close said Trueman's work-rate for both club and country made him stand out from current cricketers

"He was better than they are now, got through so much more work - 1100 overs in a season.

"He was a great outswing bowler - a fast bowler who also made it go away off the pitch," added Close of Trueman, whose pace partnership with Brian Statham was the mainstay of the England attack from the middle 1950s to the early 60s.

David Gower, an England captain while Trueman was a broadcaster and trenchant columnist for the Sunday People newspaper, said: "Fred Trueman was a great fast bowler in his day and a great character who lived and breathed the game."

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