Cricket attendances may have started to fall as the 1960s progressed but one player continued to capture the public’s attention like no other, as he had for most of the 1950s as well. Fred Trueman’s impact on the game, and people’s love of the game, was enormous. When Fred Trueman played, people watched. His first-class career spanned three decades from his debut in 1949. It was in 1964 that Trueman became the first cricketer to reach 300 wickets in Test matches.
This became eventually a career total of 307 wickets at an average of just 21.57 runs each. (It would probably have been more but for several disagreements with the authorities.) He gained 1,745 wickets for Yorkshire at a miserly average of 18.29 runs each and helped his county to the championship on six occasions during a period of Yorkshire dominance that he loved. He was awarded the OBE in 1989.
Fred Trueman never lost his love of Yorkshire and his belief in its old-fashioned values. It was to Skipton that he retired and where he wished any memorial to stand. He now has his wish. One of the great fast bowlers in history, he is still bowling with menace and style by the canal in Skipton through a larger-than-life size statue by Barnsley-born sculptor Graham Ibbeson.
The sculpture captures the vigour and excitement as Fiery Fred releases another wicket-bound delivery. It accentuates his flopping hair and the physical power of a bowling action involving, as John Arlott put it, “a belligerent spring in his run ... like a storm-wave breaking on a beach ... “ There is, one suspects, just a hint of a knowing smile on his face as the ball hurtles towards the batsman.