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22 Apr

Mel Reuben - Cricket Memories

In the first of our Cricketing Series series, Mel Reuben a regular attendee of our online reminisce session shares some of his early memories of the game.

My dad came home from work on Monday the 1st June 1952 and showed me the back page of the Yorkshire Evening Post. Its headlines in black type said young Yorkshire fast bowler Fred Trueman has been selected to play for England versus India at Headingley. My dad said “we will go on Saturday” I was counting the days down hoping that I would see this new fast bowler sensation Fred Trueman in action on the Saturday.

At the crack of dawn on the Saturday morning my dad woke me up and said come on son get yourself washed and dressed we are off to Headingley. My mother had made us egg sandwiches and I had a bottle of water and my dad filled his thermos flask and off we set. It was a lovely summer morning as we made our way to Harehills Lane to catch the 44 bus to Headingley. It was only 7am but the bus was packed to the gunnels. When we arrived at Headingley there was a massive queue stretching along Kirkstall Lane and down Cardigan Road we joined the back of the queue, don’t forget in those days it was all pay at the turnstile it was a case of first come first served. It was also common practice for the turnstile man to let you lift a youngster over the gate without paying, in fact that’s what my dad did. We managed to squeeze ourselves into two seat near the old scoreboard but it was a tight fit, fortunately we just made it in to the ground as the rumours spread around that there was thousands locked out.

England built up a reasonable score with Tom Graveney scoring 71 runs and the effervescent England wicket keeper Godfrey Evans chipping in with 66 runs.

After tea it was India’s turn to bat all eyes were on the dashing young fast Yorkshire bowler Fred Trueman, in comparison with Alec Bedser the other England opening bowler it was like compering a High Speed train to a tank engine. As Fred marked his run up I said to dad how far back is he going. Has he turned and sped in there was a deafening hush from the crowd and wham bang Roy edged one to glamour boy Dennis Compton India 0 for 1, incoming batsman Gaekwad didn’t trouble the scoreboard he was out for duck caught Laker bowled Bedser 0 for 2 next batmen was Mantri he felt the fury of Fiery Fred as his stumps were spread-eagled 0 for 3 in came Manjrekar he lasted one ball as Fred flattened his off stump 0 for 4. Panic was oozing through the India camp as they had never faced a bowler as fast as Fred Trueman. Polly Umriga one of India’s great batsman played and missed numerous deliveries and eventual was out for a paltry 9 runs caught and bowled by Jenkins.

Indian captain Hazare and young debutant Phadkar manage to steady the ship to close of play.
We queued for our bus and on the journey home my dad and I talked about this new fast bowling sensation Fred Trueman and my dad said this guy will terrorise batsmen for years to come, how right he was.

Fred took 307 test wickets the first man to take 200 wickets, after retiring he hosted YTV Indoor League and had a cameo role in Dads Army and was a commentator on TMS.
Fred passed away on 1st July 2006 and is interned at Bolton Abbey. Former PM Harold Wilson once described him as the greatest living Yorkshireman.

I feel privileged that I was there at Headingley that June day in 1952 when the great man not only made his English debut but terrorised the Indian batsmen, with the most hostile spell of bowling ever seen at Headingley.

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