Fantastic Fredericks!

Norman Gonsalves
Date published: 

Few batsmen really epitomised the best in West Indian batting as did Roy Clinton Fredericks. So pulverising was his batting that some opening bowlers were probably afraid to bowl to him, fearing for their confidence and bowling figures. Fredericks was popular with cricket fans everywhere and was often referred to as "Freddo".

Born in Blairmont, in West Bank Berbice, Freddo first represented Guyana at table tennis. As a teenager, he represented Guyana at the Annual Caribbean Table Tennis Championships, where he impressed tremendously with his quick reflexes and good eye.

Roy Fredericks driving through the coversFredericks made his cricket debut for Guyana in the Shell Shield in the mid 60's, when he was asked to step in for the regular opener Romain Etwaroo, who was injured on the eve of the match. He quickly established himself with a fighting half century, and in two years he was touring with the West Indies.

Frederick's success was rather moderate in his early Test career. He scored several 50's, but couldn't get a century, until New Zealand toured the West Indies in 1972. He hit 163, and helped Rowe get to that famous 214 on his Test debut. His batting improved tremendously after this. In a Shell Shield match against Jamaica, at Sabin Park, Fredericks hit 22 runs off the very first over, bowled by Jamaica's West Indies fast bowler Uton Dowe.

His most famous innings, however, was his 169 against Australia, in Perth, 1976. It was the 2nd Test of the series, and the other opener, Gordon Greenidge, had been dropped after a poor performance in the 1st Test. Fredericks opened the batting with makeshift opener Bernard Julien, apparently because no one else but Lance Gibbs was willing to take on Lillee and Thomson.

The second ball of the innings, from Thomson, was duly dispatched for a big six into the stands by Fredericks and another driven straight back past the bowler to the fence. In 90 odd minutes before lunch (Holding had polished off the Australian tail earlier in the morning, this being the 2nd day), Fredericks and Julien hit the Aussie attacks to all parts of the ground, as well as out of it, scoring over a 120 runs. Julien, however, was struck on his hand and had his finger fractured just before lunch.

After lunch, the boundaries flowed unchecked from Fredericks' bat. Ian Chappell, the Aussie captain, hastily withdrew Lillee and Thomson, and kept them hidden most of the time. The Aussie spinners were tried and got the same treatment. Shortly before tea, Fredericks, set to join a very small band of players to score a 100 runs in a session, was finally dismissed, edging to slip. The bewildered Aussie team, and the entire pavilion, loudly cheered Fredericks on his way back in, knowing fully well that they had just witnessed one of the very best Test innings of all time.

The euphoria of Fredericks' magnificent innings carried the West Indies to their only Test win of that series. Fredericks played several fine Test innings after that, but he surprisingly retired from Test and 1st class cricket in 1980, to become Minister of Sports in Guyana. Politics must not have been to his liking though, as he returned to cricket 3 years later, and scored 2 centuries for Guyana, including 217 in his final game for Guyana.

Fredricks also played for Glamorgan in the 70's, where he still holds several batting records. He was also an occasional, but accomplished left arm wrist spinner, who took many wickets at both the first class and Test levels.

By the end of his cricket career Fredericks started to suffer from a throat problem, that he soon discovered was cancer. To keep fit Fredericks played squash regularly, to the point where he could have represented Guyana. His cancer went into remission, and Fredericks lived a normal life until 2000, when the cancer returned and took his life. One of cricket's finest sons had passed away at age 53.

Thanks for those great innings, Freddo!