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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 July 2006, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Parky on Fred Trueman

Michael Parkinson
By Michael Parkinson
Chat show king and close friend

I can hardly believe it. He's not the kind to die, is he, Fred?

He's an old friend of mine, I've known him all my life and I've got no doubt he is the greatest English fast bowler there has ever been. He would be in my top six of all-time.

He was a great, great cricketer, with a beautiful side-on action, but to say that Fred was just a fast bowler was to miss the point.

He was a huge character, a full-blooded Shakespearean character almost, and a funny man.

He was a wonderful and controversial character

The gap he leaves is massive.

He was the first to take 300 Test wickets, and there would have been many more in him had he played as many times as he should have done for England.

He would refer to that himself. He was a controversial figure. In those days cricket was run by an establishment who didn't much like the cut of Fred Trueman's jib, and he didn't much like theirs either.

It all added to the spice of the game. He was a wonderful character. I was once about to write his autobiography and we sat down after great debate and finally did the deal.

I said: "Fred, we need a snappy title for the book, it's important." He said: "I've got it, Parky, lad - The Definitive Volume of Best Fast Bowlers That Drew Breath."

I didn't write it - John Arlott did it in the end, and I asked him how he managed to pin him down, and John said: "I didn't bother - I saw him bowl, that's all I needed to write 80,000 words."

Fred and John deserved each other in a way. They were the sort of great characters who aren't around today - sport has changed. People don't have the leisure, the time to be characters any more.

I once had him on my show with Harold Pinter (the playwright) in the 1970s. "Who's he play for?" said Fred. I told him he'd written a play called The Caretaker, and Fred said: "What's he doing writing a play called The Undertaker?"

Trevor Bailey, who was a great friend of Fred's, told me a marvellous story about him once.

Playing against him, Fred felled Trevor with a bouncer - I mean Fred was quick and hostile - and as Bailey lay on the ground, he said: "I'm sorry, Trevor lad. There's many more around I'd rather hurt than you."

Fred was a great man, a great Yorkshireman. He's irreplaceable.

Michael Parkinson was speaking to Garry Richardson on BBC One.

SEE ALSO
Farewell 'Fiery Fred'
01 Jul 06 |  Cricket
Tributes pour in for Trueman
01 Jul 06 |  Cricket
Trueman's career in pictures
01 Jul 06 |  Photo Galleries


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