Trueman was a great sportsman, recalls Gibbs

Published: Sunday, July 2, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Kingston :Former West Indies off-spin great Lance Gibbs has described the late Fred Trueman as a great sportsman.

The 71-year-old Gibbs, who became the second bowler after Trueman to claim 300 Test wickets, was reacting to the passing of the former England fast bowler on Saturday in a hospital in Yorkshire, England, at the age 75, following a brief battle with lung cancer.

"He was an extremely great bowler and I remember he was a thorn in the flesh of most of the West Indies' batsmen in the 1963 series in England," remarked Gibbs, who is in Jamaica watching the fourth and final Test between West Indies and India at Sabina Park.

"He got 34 wickets in that series and, apart from Derek Shackleton, who got 15 wickets, he was the dominant force in the England attack. He respected our great batsmen at the time - Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell, and Clyde Walcott - and he dominated the lesser mortals we may have had."

Gibbs acknowledged that Trueman was the dominant bowler in England at that time and he really performed really well. "He would give it his all at all times, even when the pitches were not giving him much assistance," Gibbs said.

"He was prepared to go out there and fight, and this is the hallmark of a great bowler. You fight when things are not going well for you. He was a fierce competitor and everyone in England would have been proud of Fred."

Gibbs quipped that he was not a tired man after claiming his 300th Test wicket, referring to a comment that Trueman made following his achievement that any man that took so many would be very fatigued.

"I was not very tired, but Freddie was very outspoken and he used some adjectives at times that you could not repeat," Gibbs said. "As a bowler though, he could be unplayable at times. I remember a match at Edgbaston when he cut his run-up down in a Test against Australia and bowled some destructive off-cutters.

"So he was very versatile at what he did, and against West Indies, he claimed 86 Test wickets in 18 Tests against us."

Gibbs snared 309 Test wickets at an average of 29.09 runs apiece in 79 Tests between 1958 and 1976.

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