Shine on me, Roy

Roy Fredericks' manic innings in Perth 40-odd years ago left you seeing stars in the daytime

Ashley Mallett
Roy Fredericks: ball murderer

Roy Fredericks: ball murderer Hulton/Archive / © Getty Images

December 13, 1975 was no ordinary day of Test cricket. West Indian opener Roy Fredericks, or Freddo as he was affectionately known, peppered the boundaries of the WACA ground with a savagery and frequency that shocked Greg Chappell's Australian team.

The sky was blue and the sun shone over Perth, but the fours rained in a torrent, telling all and sundry that this was an innings for the ages; a knock that would have delighted the likes of Trumper, Bradman, Harvey and Gilchrist.

In just 145 balls he scorched to 169 against an attack that included Dennis Lillee at his most fearsome and Jeff Thomson at his fastest. His hundred came in 71 balls. This was not a one-dayer but a Test match, for god's sake.

Freddo smashed the ball continuously, especially when he batted at the Members' End, where he hit with the strong south-easterly that blew like a mini-cyclone. His slash through backward point travelled with the velocity of a tracer bullet and was nigh on impossible to catch.

There was Lillee hurling down his thunderbolts and Thomson bowling like the wind, and Freddo cutting and pulling like a man possessed. There was many a time when he cut at lifting deliveries, and at the precise instant he struck the ball, both his feet were well clear of the ground.

The Fremantle Doctor added to Australia's woes, for the wind reached 50kph. Add that to the speed of Freddo's ferocious strokes. Surely the good doctor, who with his cooling hand comes to the rescue of the people of Perth every afternoon in summer, could have given Freddo a calming pill to save the poor Aussies from a terrible hiding.

I was fielding in the gully and nothing came anywhere near me, yet Freddo was cutting fiercely, the ball soaring over my head and to my left, round point.

We had batted first, our innings ending early on the second day for 329. Ian Chappell played a grand knock of 156 against the pace attack, led by Andy Roberts and Michael Holding. The West Indians had 90 minutes to bat before lunch. Freddo hit Lillee's second ball for six, with a hook. It was some statement of intent.

A few months earlier, at Lord's in the first World Cup final, Freddo hooked Lillee's first ball for six, then trod on his stumps. This time he decided to get his eye in… for one ball.

At lunch West Indies had hit 130 for the loss of Bernard Julien's wicket. Just 14 eight-ball overs had been completed: much of the time had been lost retrieving the ball from the stands and where it had rested far beyond the eastern rope. West Indies' 200 came in just 22 overs and Freddo was out for 169 (caught by Greg Chappell at second slip off Lillee) with the score at 258.

In the wake of Freddo's onslaught I forgave myself for thinking that the cricket gods had conspired against the Australian team, both in a collective and individual sense.

On the eve of the Test I had to visit the dentist. I'd had a tooth filled in Brisbane a week previously and thought this would be a brief visit. Alas, nothing of the sort.

"The tooth has to come out," the doctor frowned. He went on to say the extraction had to be performed without anaesthetic, explaining that an abscess had developed and while the tooth needed to be pulled, the abscess would negate any "deadening" effect. As it turned out, he broke the tooth off at the gum line and the root - like some Geoff Boycott-like gremlin - had to be dug out. The trauma gave me some idea of those brave souls of yore who had a shot of whisky or a thump to the cranium prior to having their teeth pulled.

There was many a time when Freddo cut at lifting deliveries, and at the precise instant he struck the ball, both his feet were well clear of the ground

How could I have known then that even greater personal pain - if not physical - was on the horizon?

Getting a first-innings duck was one thing.

During Fredericks' assault, I came on from the Members' End. The south-westerly had begun to increase in velocity as the afternoon wore on. Lawrence Rowe (19) departed with the score at 134, caught Rodney Marsh bowled Thomson, and Alvin Kallicharran came to the wicket. My first ball into the howling wind saw Kalli stumble forward a few yards and miss the ball. I was elated. Well, it beat the outside edge but also evaded Rod Marsh's gloves. Moral victories don't count in this game.

Later Kallicharran was stuck a fearful blow from Lillee and suffered a broken nose, spending that night in a Perth hospital before returning the following day to finish with 57. Clive Lloyd was on nought when he slogged at me. The ball swirled high over mid-on, where Lillee put down the chance. Lloyd survived to hit 149.

So two blokes I had nearly got before they scored managed to compile a total of 206, and my 26 wicketless overs cost me 103. Now that, friends, is real fair- dinkum pain. But all that was forgotten in the wake of Freddo's amazing innings.

I had three mates who conceded more than 100 runs: Lillee got 2 for 123 off 20 overs; Thomson 3 for 128 off 17; Gary Gilmour 2 for 103 off 14; and Max Walker was let off lightly: 2 for 99 off 17. It was a thrashing of the highest order.

Lindsay Hassett said on the ABC that Fredericks' 169 was the "greatest innings I've seen in Australia". Some accolade, given Hassett had played alongside Bradman from 1938 through to 1948 and seen many amazing innings from the Don and others.

During World Series Cricket, Freddo, who though he was edging towards 36 and a man who seemed affronted by any suggestion to don a protective helmet, was clocked on the head by Graham McKenzie and one other. Yet he simply shook his head and batted on. Some of the Aussies dubbed him "cement head".

Someone suggested Freddo called everyone "old chap", although that wasn't my experience. Whenever you bumped into the little bloke, he just seemed to mumble a greeting; then his face lit up like a Christmas tree - like his batting that day at the WACA: the day all the stars in the firmament got together with a dynamo to give the world of cricket an unmatched heavenly delight.

Ashley Mallett took 132 Tests wickets in 38 Tests for Australia. An author of over 25 books, he has written biographies of Clarrie Grimmett, Doug Walters, Jeff Thomson and Ian Chappell





  • POSTED BY Peter on | February 1, 2013, 0:04 GMT

    This innings must've beggared belief. 169 off 145 balls would be mighty impressive against Bangladesh, let alone against Lillee and Thommo on the fastest pitch in world cricket! Roy Fredericks isn't as well remembered as many Windies batsmen of the time, but none of them - even the genius that is Sir Vivian Richards, has played a more astonishing innings. Thanks for sharing this with us, Ashley - and congratulations on - considering the circumstances, a miserly bowling performance that day!

  • POSTED BY V.L on | January 31, 2013, 19:55 GMT

    Must have been some innings, attacking the likes of Lillee, Thompson. Too bad there are no highlights available for games such as these!

  • POSTED BY Santosh on | January 31, 2013, 19:53 GMT

    The Original Brian Charles Lara...

  • POSTED BY K. on | January 31, 2013, 14:35 GMT

    Lara is a Roy Fredericks CLONE.

  • POSTED BY sridhar on | January 31, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    Yes interesting comment by Skyladark. People want to remember only their victories and not their dark moments. I heard this on the radio , it was an astonishing game. If my memory serves me right, this was the only game that the Windies won. I remember Greg Chappell made a lot of runs during this series and Lillee and Thomson did extremely well.. Alan McVilgray was probably the commentator with Tony Cozier, somehow some of the greatest innings were pre TV days.... Ramanujam Sridhar

  • POSTED BY ERROL on | January 31, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    Great article, I remember listening ball by ball coverage of that series in which we lost 5-1. @ InsideHedge you can blame WICB for many things but they did not drop Freddo. He retired to play World Series cricket and WI had three openers trying for his spot. They were Haynes, Austin and Bacchus and we know who won. After World Series was finish Freddo tried to come back but Haynes was already making runs.

  • POSTED BY Amit on | January 31, 2013, 1:40 GMT

    Wow! thanks for reviving my memory cells! I was 9 years old and was engulfed into the religion of cricket. I following every test match in the series through the Radio (Short wave) with my late dad. The series had all the hype and after the 2nd test the series was tied, behind this superb innings by Fredricks. However, Aus won the next 4 to win the series, with Greg Chappell's 183 not out in the 4th test taking the wind out of Windies. However, the silver lining for the windies was the emergence of young Viv Richards in the last 2 test. It was a rare innings by Fredricks and not many capable of playiing. I bet, 30 years from now, we'll pick out innings played by Gilchrist, Sehwag or Pieterson and be in awe!

  • POSTED BY Mark on | January 31, 2013, 0:40 GMT

    I remember this innings and series well. It truly was amazing to see the small, unhelmeted Fredericks pasting Lillee, Thomson, Walker & Gilmour all over the WACA. Part of the reason (as well as some umpiring howlers) such a strong WI team lost 1-5 was that there was tremendous media hype in 1975 Oz about "Calypso Cricket" and the WI got sucked in by the hype. They played to entertain and at times forgot that to win, scoring 250 runs all out at 6 an over was not as useful as 400 runs at 3 an over. Read Frank Tyson's "Hapless Hookers" for a full analysis. To Inside Hedge: yes, Garth McKenzie played WSC. Don't forget, Chappelli was retired from Test cricket too when he joined WSC as Oz captain.

  • POSTED BY Arosha on | January 30, 2013, 20:32 GMT

    I have seen some video clips of this famous innings by Roy Federicks. His stance & the way of execution of strokes reminds Brian Lara very much. While Lara may have been much more consistent in the longer run & surely one of the all time greats, Federicks would be much much more destructive on his day and had been a great batsman in his own right too. I would say he could have easily matched or even surpassed Gordon Grineedge's destructive play at the top, though he could have only a shorter international career compared to what Grineedge had.

  • POSTED BY Mohamed on | January 30, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    I was a 14 at the time. We had no TV in Guyana, so it was all radio and I remember sitting up at night with a friend and listening to this match and how great it was to listen to Tony Cozier and other commentators describe Fredericks onslaught. I also remember Andy Roberts bowling what seems like forever. As a kid growing up in Guyana and fancying myself an opening batsman, I was always Roy Fredericks when batting… long sleeves and all. Freddo became a sports Minister in Guyana and sadly died in his early 50's. I believe that it was throat cancer. He went to NY for treatment, but it was too far gone. Thanks Mr. Ashley Mallet for the wonderful article on one of my favourites and really under-appreciated opening batsman. Mohamed Z. Rahaman (Breado)

  • POSTED BY Dummy4 on | January 30, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    To InsideHedge...you have heard correctly: Freddo was the manager player during the 1983 West Indies domestic competition and he played 2 games topped the averages with I believe 203 in one game and another century in the other that year Guyana won the double of the 4 day and oned ay competition under Clive Lloyd...

  • POSTED BY Mondrita on | January 30, 2013, 15:48 GMT

    Really nice article, and sweet story. It's nice to hear people treasure memories, even of loss, so fondly. :)

  • POSTED BY Cameron on | January 30, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    Roy Fredericks was a magnificent batsman & a gentleman. Sadly another who left the world too early due to cancer. His memory, thanks to excellent articles like this, will thankfully live on.

  • POSTED BY Dummy4 on | January 30, 2013, 10:15 GMT

    Growing up, Fredericks and Greenidge were the first opening pair in World Cricket that really made an impression on me. Their attacking flair was a sight to behold and re-invented the positive nature of the classic test-match openers. I constantly get into arguements with younger cricket-fans, who always throw stats in my face, to try and justify that my admiration was merely based on nostalga. But i counter-argued that all the rules that are protecting the current batsman didn't apply back then, such as the bouncer-rule and introduction of helmets, chest and arm-guards. They should appreciate that the cricketers of Freddo's generation only had pads, thigh-pad, a box, gloves and a cap to protect them from was an unlimited barrage. I never got to see that innings in Perth, but to do that against the mighty Australian attack of back then, was probably worthy of a triple-century by normal standards.

  • POSTED BY VINODK on | January 30, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    Very well written article by someone who had probably the best tickets to an innings of sheer daring and ferocity!! Repeatedly hooking and cutting Lillee and Thommo at the lightning quick WACA without a helmet really took some guts. Pity they dont make them like that anymore.

  • POSTED BY Sanjay on | January 30, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    Fascinating to read a piece coming from someone who played in the match, particularly someone from the opposition. There can be no higher praise than that coming from a peer. It showed West Indies' vision that they dropped him for the emerging Des Haynes even tho Fredericks/Greenidge was a partnership most countries would have died for. I think Des haynes can be very grateful.

    Sadly, Fredericks died early but i remember that he hit a double ton for Guyana when he was some 40 yrs old, still in the only way he knew how with blistering strokeplay.

    On a side note, did Garth Mckenzie play World Series Cricket? Surely, that's a typo.

  • POSTED BY John on | January 30, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    Those were the years of helmetless, real fearsome batters.I started listening to ABC commentary only in the mid eighties, so i missed this one.

  • POSTED BY Noman on | January 30, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    Wish I could have seen it. But Ashley has done the next best thing by articulating it beautifully. One day, I'd like to meet you Mr. Millet! :)

  • POSTED BY Warks on | January 30, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    Not yet forty years ago thank you! I watched this on TV as a kid. It was like a whirlwind - never seen anything like it - made Doug Walters look pedestrian - he was the fastest Aussie back then. When Aus got flogged by an innings we thought it was going to be a tight series but history shows that Aus won 5-1. Unforgettable!

  • POSTED BY N. on | January 30, 2013, 3:48 GMT

    N. Sundararajan from Chennai--brilliantly described---I liked the reference to Freddo getting his eye-in---for one ball !

    Ashley, pl. do write a few more such brilliant articles on the best bowling and batting performances you have experienced!