Freddie Brown (cricketer) : biography
Frederick Richard ("Freddie") Brown CBE (16 December 1910, Lima, Peru – 24 July 1991, Ramsbury, Wiltshire, England)Bateman, pp.34–35. was an English amateur cricketer who played first-class cricket for Cambridge University (1930–31), Surrey (1931–48), Northamptonshire (1949–53) and England (1931–53). He was a genuine all-rounder, batting right-handed and bowling either right-arm medium pace or leg break and googly.
Brown was named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1933, but his career declined thereafter until he was made captain of Northamptonshire and England in 1949. Brown was an England selector from 1951 to 1953 and Chairman of Selectors in 1953 when England regained the Ashes. Subsequently, he was involved in cricket administration including tour management. He was elected President of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1971–72 and Chairman of the Cricket Council in 1977. He was awarded the MBE in 1942 for his gallantry in the evacuation of the British Army from Crete and the CBE in 1980 for services to cricket.
Style and technique
Brown was a leg-spinner in his youth, but turned to medium paced bowling after the war. He was able to turn or cut the ball with his large hands and was a wicket taker rather than a container of batsmen, but sometimes lost his line and length. As a pace bowler he was more accurate, was able to tie down even the best batsmen and proved adept at breaking solid partnerships. In particular he was able to dismiss the stonewalling Australian captain Lindsay Hassett. He still used his leg-spin when required by conditions or the frailties of the batsmen, sometimes mixing them up in the same over. His bucket hands made him a good catcher and he once caught and bowled Keith Miller in both innings of a Test, so the Australian all-rounder nicknamed him ‘C and B’. As a batsman he stuck to the simple expedient of blocking the good balls and thumping the bad ones. With his height, weight and strength he could strike the ball as hard as anyone and once hit a six into the Lord’s Pavilion. His first-class centuries were noted for their plentiful boundaries and this was another reason why his was popular with the crowds.
Like many amateur captains, Brown was happy to take advice from his senior professionals and O’Reilly says he "conferred with Len Hutton before he made a bowling change…there was little room for doubt…that Brown had tremendous respect for Hutton’s advice on the cricket field".O’Reilly, p.25. He was also one of the selectors who took the radical step of making Hutton England captain, the first professional to be appointed to the position since 1877. Brown’s combative captaincy is best remembered for leading poor teams regardless of the odds, Northants in 1949–53 and England in 1950–51, where he laid the foundations for future success. Allen Synge wrote that Brown as captain in the field took "impressive charge" and it was noticeable that players obeyed his commanding gestures "at the double".Synge, p.116.
On the 1950–51 tour, Brown allowed the team to socialise more than previous captains had done and saw no reason why he should insist that amateur undergraduates should mix awkwardly with working class professionals, or that veterans should accompany their younger team-mates.Fingleton, pp.58–60. This led to the usual stories of dissension in the ranks when a team performs badly and Brown hotly denied this.
There are widely contrasting views about Brown’s personality. He was well-liked in Australia when he captained England there in 1950–51 as recorded by O’Reilly (see above). According to Kay, Brown had a hearty appetite for food and drink and was combative and forceful by nature, which endeared him to the Australian public.Kay, p.33. Jack Fingleton commented: "With his sun-hat on, a ‘kerchief tied round his neck, and ambling jovially in the field, Freddie Brown lacked only a wisp of straw in his mouth to make him look like the original Farmer Brown".Fingleton, p.124. On the other hand, professional players viewed Brown’s silk neckerchief with contempt as it "enhanced the impression of a bumptious windbag".Waters, p.148. Brown was considered "a bully who preyed on weakness or quirk of character".