Doug Freeman: Schoolboy Test Cricketer

Published: 2023
Pages: 62
Author: Cardwell, Ronald
Publisher: The Cricket Press Pty Ltd
Rating: 4 stars

Launched yesterday, on the Saturday of the Wellington Test between New Zealand and England this one is a biography of New Zealand’s 23rd Test cricketer, who made his two Test appearances against Douglas Jardine’s side in 1932/33, so almost exactly ninety years ago.

Before his two Test appearances Freeman had played in just two First Class matches, and afterwards he played at that level just once more so, at a mere 19 years of age he had made his final appearance. Unsurprisingly he was, at the time of his debut, the youngest ever New Zealand Test cricketer. It was a record he was to hold for almost three quarters of a century until Daniel Vettori came along and took possession of that one.

In one way that background promises little in terms of a cricketing biography. Freeman’s main role was as a wrist spinner, and he took nine of his fourteen First Class wickets on debut, and just one for a cost of 196 in his two Tests. A reasonable batsman in club cricket Freeman could not be described as an all-rounder in his First Class career, never getting into double figures in any of his six innings, all of which were completed.

But at the same time the circumstances also suggest a interesting life, and whilst there is no great drama in what became of Freeman after 1934 his life nonetheless makes for an absorbing narrative and, the best part of half a century after Ronald Cardwell first met Freeman, he has now completed and published the story.

The assistance of Freeman himself, prior to his death in his eightieth year in 1994, his family and historians in New Zealand and Fiji have allowed Cardwell to tell the full story, from the call up of the schoolboy cricketer for those two Tests in 1932/33, to his subsequent move to Fiji in 1935 and relocation to Sydney twenty years later. Cricket remained a part of Freeman’s life and he managed a tour by a Fijian team to New Zealand in 1954, playing in a number of the matches, albeit not in any of the four that were accorded First Class status.

Doug Freeman: Schoolboy Test Cricketer is not a long read, and is the sort of book that is easily digested in one sitting. The story is well told and those familiar with the author’s style of writing will certainly be happy with a book that, as everything else from this publisher, is very well designed and presented. Of particular value are an an extensive selection of photographs, some from family sources, and others from the author’s own collection, but whatever their source they are reproduced very well indeed.

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Martin Chandler