Alex Massie

The Bearded Wonder Was Right

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Sad news that Bill Frindall has been run out, courtesy of a dodgy call from the non-strikers' end. From the BBC's tribute:

"These are serious men, who will take up hours of your life if you let them, arguing about whether Fred Trueman lighting his pipe 21 times between lunch and tea was a record for an Oval Test against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge in June."

So wrote Martin Johnson about Bill Frindall and the cricket statistician fraternity in the Daily Telegraph, after England's Andrew Strauss played all around a Shane Warne delivery in the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney in January 2007, a dismissal which saw the leg-spinner become the first bowler to take 700 Test wickets in history.

According to Frindall, however, Warne was still six wickets short of the mark. Why? Because of his refusal to recognise the status of the so-called Super Series Test match in Sydney in 2004 between Australia and a Rest of the World XI. But of course Frindall was correct. The ICC's Rest of the World vs Australia game was a nonsense. Or rather, if you grant that match Test status then it is an absurdity that the England vs Rest of the World series in 1970 (occasioned by the beginning of the South African boycott) is not also granted Test status. Since it is not, even though it was a real series rather than the glorified exhibition game played in Australia, then nor should the ICC's pet project be afforded the ultimate status.

Regardless, Frindall may have been an awkward bugger, but he was sensible enough to bring the TMS team back to what counts - that's the cricket, incidentally  - when they showed signs, rather too frequently, of indulging their more idiotic, if popular, digressions.

Only cricket could elevate a "mere" scorer to celebrity heights. Frindall was a very English, very quiet force for decency (and accuracy!) and he will be missed. It is astonishing to think that the BBC has only had two official scorers since 1934. But in an era in which cricketers make absurd claims (Monty Panesar is the best left-arm spinner in English cricketing history according to Kevin Pietersen) Frindall's sense of perspective is more vital than ever.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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