Jack Bannister on Trueman the great, who died at the weekend...
The word great is used far too often in life and sport, but Frederick Sewards Trueman deserves such an epithet, described in my dictionary as "of remarkable ability or character."
I take issue with the qualifying "or", because he had both. The statistics are unforgettable - 307 wickets in 67 Tests and a first class haul of 2,304 wickets at 18.29 apiece.
Yes, cricket was a different game in the 1950s and 1960s and yes, batting averages then of 30 are worth 40 nowadays, and wickets cost three or four more runs each on modern covered wickets.
Comparisons are rarely valid between different eras, but they are with Fred. He struck every 48 balls in Test matches and was rarely unfit in a career that encompassed 603 first class matches in nearly 20 years.
Injuries, breakdown? Don't make me laugh. The owner of the all-time classical sideways action proves the nonsense espoused by modern coaches that a mixed chest-on action prevents bowlers of today sustaining back injuries.
What is surprising is when black and white films of the great man show that he usually bowled wide of the crease, but that increased the angle against which he swung the ball away to the right handers.
He was a tailender's nightmare, with his control of the yorker and, as former captain Brian Close said, "he was a captain's dream. He would bowl whenever you asked, at whatever time of the day you wanted, and would never give less than his all."
Repartee was always witty and threatening, but never malicious. As for instance in the early 1960s when Warwickshire took an inexperienced side to Bradford, due to Test match calls and injuries.
Fred's party trick was always to barge into the opposition's dressing room on the first morning of a three day match, and terrorise young batsmen with how he had won another game for Yorkshire the previous day.
He was a big name-dropper; "Peter May? Two inswingers and then the other one and off he went. Kenny Barrington? Same, only in reverse. And last week against Tom Graveney - well it was a full yorker and down they went."
Out he would go having done his psychological homework, which is why Bannister and other senior pros decided we would get into the Bradford dressing room early and lock the door to keep him out, especially as he was on 91 first class wickets in the middle of July and had never been first in the country to 100.
The first rattle of the door knob came at 10.30am, followed by five others in the next 35 minutes, before a seventh was accompanied by "tea lady here with your tea and biscuits."
The door was opened and in she came, with "FS" just behind. He stood there like John Wayne entering a hostile wild west saloon, and then delivered this crushing remark.
"Right you lot. I want nine for a hundred, so you can draw lots for who is odd man out!"
Talk about the carefully protected balloon of morale being punctured. And he got them, although in both innings after we followed on.
I had lunch at Chez Boycott before the Headingley Test two years ago, and sat at the same table as Fred, Harold "Dickie" Bird and Jonathan Agnew, with whom Fred had worked often on Test Match Special.
"You know Aggers, you were a lucky bugger."
"Because you bowled at Viv Richards."
"Why is that lucky?" "Because I only bowled at him once and did him second ball. If only I could have bowled more often at him."
And then there was Warwickshire's three-day game at Middlesbrough, in the late 1960s. To get to our dressing room, we had to go through the kitchen and then past the open door of the Yorksshire accommodation.
First past the open door through which Fred greeted every player was Khalid "Billy" Ibadulla.
Second and third were Rohan Kanhai and Lance Gibbs.
"Morning Rohan. Morning Gibbsy."
Then came yours truly. "Morning Jack. See you've brought all your locals!"
His Yorkshire colleagues were never spared. Playing against Northamptonshire and "Typhoon" Frank Tyson for the first time, the Yorkies were close to rout, when Johnny Wardle said as he went into bat that he would show them.
Second ball with the rampaging Tyson still a few yards away from the crease, Wardle's feet edged leg side and down went all three stumps.
Fred passed him, next in, and said "So that's showing us is it? Just watch how it's done."
First ball was a carbon copy of reluctant footwork with an ever bigger mess made of the stumps. Fred walked back into a dressing room silence, broken eventually by Wardle.
"What happened then Fred?" Apparently, game, set and match. Not a bit of it. "I slipped on all that shit you left out there."
His passing was marked on Saturday at Headingley with the mandatory minute's tribute split evenly between applause and silence.
He has gone, but Frederick Sewards Trueman will always be with us. The greatest fast bowler and the greatest character the game has ever known. ..SUPL: