C. B. Fry

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C. B. Fry
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Personal information
Full nameCharles Burgess Fry
Born(1872-04-25)25 April 1872
Croydon, England
Died7 September 1956(1956-09-07) (aged 84)
Hampstead, London, England
Batting styleRight-handed
Bowling styleRight arm fast-medium
International information
National sideEngland
Test debut (cap 95)13 February 1896 v South Africa
Last Test22 August 1912 v Australia
Domestic team information
YearsTeam
1921–1922Europeans (India)
1909–1921Hampshire
1894–1908Sussex
1900–1902London County
1892–1895Oxford University
Career statistics
CompetitionTestFirst-class
Matches26394
Runs scored1,22330,886
Batting average32.1850.22
100s/50s2/794/124
Top score144258*
Balls bowled109,036
Wickets0166
Bowling average29.34
5 wickets in innings9
10 wickets in match2
Best bowling6/78
Catches/stumpings17/–239/–
Source: Cricinfo, 12 November 2008
 
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C. B. Fry
{{{imagealt}}}
Personal information
Full nameCharles Burgess Fry
Born(1872-04-25)25 April 1872
Croydon, England
Died7 September 1956(1956-09-07) (aged 84)
Hampstead, London, England
Batting styleRight-handed
Bowling styleRight arm fast-medium
International information
National sideEngland
Test debut (cap 95)13 February 1896 v South Africa
Last Test22 August 1912 v Australia
Domestic team information
YearsTeam
1921–1922Europeans (India)
1909–1921Hampshire
1894–1908Sussex
1900–1902London County
1892–1895Oxford University
Career statistics
CompetitionTestFirst-class
Matches26394
Runs scored1,22330,886
Batting average32.1850.22
100s/50s2/794/124
Top score144258*
Balls bowled109,036
Wickets0166
Bowling average29.34
5 wickets in innings9
10 wickets in match2
Best bowling6/78
Catches/stumpings17/–239/–
Source: Cricinfo, 12 November 2008

Charles Burgess Fry, known as C. B. Fry (25 April 1872 – 7 September 1956), was an English polymath;[1] an outstanding sportsman, politician, diplomat, academic, teacher, writer, editor and publisher, who is best remembered for his career as a cricketer. John Arlott described him with the words: "Charles Fry could be autocratic, angry and self-willed: he was also magnanimous, extravagant, generous, elegant, brilliant - and fun [...] he was probably the most variously gifted Englishman of any age."[2]

Fry's achievements on the sporting field included representing England at both cricket and football, an F.A. Cup Final appearance for Southampton F.C. and equalling the then world record for the long jump. He also reputedly turned down the throne of Albania. In later life, he suffered mental health problems, but in his 70s was still able to perform his party piece: jumping backwards onto a mantel from a standing position.[3][4]

Contents

Education

C. B. Fry was born in Croydon; the son of a civil servant.[5] Both sides of his family had once been wealthy, but by 1872 were not as prosperous. After winning a scholarship, Fry was educated at Repton School (where his academic career was erratic), and then at Wadham College, Oxford. At Repton he was second to last in his form, and with his scholarship in jeopardy, he worked hard to gain promotion every term until he was at the top. His greatest strength was in Classics, his poorest subject being Mathematics. Fry gained the headmaster's permission to study Thucydides instead of Maths, but dispensed with the subject for the rest of his academic career.

As Repton was unusual in having a stronger tradition in football than rugby union, Fry played for the under-16 Repton side in his first term, aged thirteen. Being coached by Arthur Forman,[6] Fry was made captain of the cricket and football XIs, and also won trophies for athletics. Before the age of seventeen he played for The Casuals in the F.A. Cup.[7]

Having won a further scholarship to study at Wadham College, Oxford, he won his university Blue in Association football, cricket and athletics, but narrowly failed to win a Blue in rugby union, because of an injury.[8] Sydney Castle Roberts wrote that the English essayist, Max Beerbohm, once interviewed Fry at Wadham College for the English Illustrated Magazine. After noticing that "the great all-rounder" [Fry] was smoking a pipe, he asked for his thoughts on the long jump: "It's the best fun in the world... one spring up and then the air rushes past you in a hurricane and there you are again on your feet, safe and sound".[9] Fry also said that although he thought the game of golf was "fascinating", he only saw it as "glorified croquet".[10] Beerbohm noted his thoughts on Fry: "I could not but envy the young athlete, with his off-hand ways and transparent happiness... I felt altogether that I should like to be 'Fry of Wadham' myself".[10]

When Fry was only twenty-one, the magazine Vanity Fair published a caricature of him in its issue of 19 April 1894, with the comment: "He is sometimes known as "C.B."; but it has lately been suggested that he should be called 'Charles III'."[11]

Fry was an exceptional scholar and it was expected he would achieve a first-class degree in Classics, and then enter the Indian Civil Service. Although he rarely discussed his last year at Oxford it would seem that he had a serious mental breakdown shortly before his exams.[12] At the time his mother was ill, and his financial situation was dire as his father was unable to support him. Fry's only income was an £80 per year scholarship, at the time when Wadham students often had incomes of over £400. At one point he resorted to nude modelling to earn money. He was later awarded a fourth class degree, and with his career plans ruined by academic failure he turned to his other talents, specifically football and cricket. He then played for the English cricket team in 1895–96, for Lord Hawke's XI, which toured South Africa.[13][14]

Sporting career

In the sports reference book, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, it stated that Fry (apart from his other achievements stated below), was "a fine boxer, a passable golfer, swimmer, sculler, tennis player and javelin thrower".[8]

Cricket

He played for Surrey in 1891 (but not in any first-class fixtures),[12] Oxford University 1892–1895, Sussex 1894–1908 (captain 1904–1908), and Hampshire, 1909–1921. First selected by England in 1896, he captained England in his final six Test matches in 1912, winning four and drawing two. He twice scored Test centuries: 144 v Australia in 1905,[15] when he responded to suggestions that he could only score in front of the wicket with extensive use of the cut shot, hitting 23 fours in 3½ hours, and 129 v South Africa in 1907, against the South African quartet of googly bowlers (Bert Vogler, Reggie Schwarz, Aubrey Faulkner, Gordon White).[16]

As a highly effective right-handed batsman who batted at, or near the top of the order, Fry scored 30,886 first-class runs with an average of over 50—a particularly high figure for an era when scores were generally lower than today.[8] At the end of his cricketing career in 1921, he had the second highest average of any retired player with over 10,000 runs: only his Sussex and England colleague Ranjitsinhji had retired with a better career average. He headed the batting averages for five English seasons (in 1901, 1903, 1907, 1911 and 1912). Against Yorkshire, the strongest County bowling attack (George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes, Schofield Haigh, Stanley Jackson), of Fry's time, he averaged a remarkable 63.6 over the course of his career, including 234 in 1903,[17] and back-to-back scores of 177,[18] in 1904.[19]

In his early career Fry was an enthusiastic and successful fast bowler. He returned his career best figures of 6–78 in the 1895 Varsity match,[20] and he twice took ten wickets in a match: 5–75 and 5–102 for the Gentlemen against I Zingari in 1895,[21] and 5–81 and 5–66 for Sussex against Nottinghamshire in 1896 (a match in which he also scored 89 and 65).[22] This was unusual amongst gentleman amateurs and he regularly opened the bowling for University sides and the Gentlemen. The late 1890s saw a re-emergence of the throwing controversy. Several professional bowlers including Arthur Mold and Ernie Jones were no-balled and forced to retire. Fry's bowling action was criticised by opponents and team-mates, and it was only a matter of time before he too was no-balled by umpire Jim Phillips.[23]

England v. Australia at Trent Bridge, 1899. Back row: Dick Barlow (umpire), Tom Hayward, George Hirst, Billy Gunn, J T Hearne (12th man), Bill Storer (wkt kpr), Bill Brockwell, V A Titchmarsh (umpire). Middle row: C B Fry, K S Ranjitsinhji, W G Grace (captain), Stanley Jackson. Front row: Wilfred Rhodes, Johnny Tyldesley.

Fry scored 94 first-class centuries, including an unprecedented six consecutive centuries in 1901. No-one else has scored more consecutive hundreds.[24] He made his highest first-class score of 258 not out in 1911,[25] a season which led to his recall to the England Test team as captain in 1912. In 1921, he was invited to captain England again at the age of 49, but declined because he had broken a finger.[26] Fry later commentated at cricket matches, later being called "one of the most eloquent cricket commentators of all time".[27]

For both Sussex and England, he was closely associated with the outstanding cricketer Prince Ranjitsinhji, the future Jam Sahib of Nawanagar.[28] Their contrasting batting styles complemented one another (Fry being an orthodox, technically upright batsman, and Ranji being noted for his innovation, particularly his use of the leg glance). Their friendship lasted well into the 1920s, and when Ranjitsinhji became one of India's three representatives at the League of Nations, he took Fry with him as a speech writer (see Politics, below).[29][30]

His son, Stephen Fry, his grandson, Charles Fry, and his cousin, Kenneth Fry (1883 - 1949), all played first-class cricket.

Athletics

In athletics, Fry equalled the then world long jump record of 23 feet 6+12 inches (7.176 m) in 1893 (tied with the American Charles Reber). This is often incorrectly claimed to have stood as a world record for 21 years, but this length of time actually only refers to how long he held the varsity record; his shared world record was broken in September 1894.

At the world's first international match, Oxford v Yale at the Queen's Club, West Kensington, in 1894, Fry came third in the long jump and won the 100 yards,[31] though his sprint victory caused some controversy. While the American sprinters started in the crouch position on all fours, the British had not yet adopted this style and stood poised at the line. Fry insisted that he be allowed to suspend one foot in front of the starting line, hovering in mid-air, above the ground.[31]

Football

C. B. Fry
CBFry.jpg
Personal information
Full nameCharles Burgess Fry
Date of birth(1872-04-25)25 April 1872
Place of birthCroydon, England
Date of death7 September 1956(1956-09-07) (aged 84)
Place of deathHampstead, England
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Playing positionFull back
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
1900–1902Southampton F.C.16(0)
1902–1903Portsmouth F.C.2(0)
National team
1901England1(0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Fry's achievements also extended to Association football.

He learned football at Repton School and was awarded his Oxford University Blue for football. In 1894, he joined the famous amateur club the Corinthians. Although extremely proud of his amateur status, he decided that entering the professional game would enhance his chance of international honours. He chose Southampton F.C. (The Saints), as the leading lights in the Southern League, and also because The Dell was conveniently close to his home. He was registered as a player in 1898, but his debut was delayed until 26 December 1900, against Tottenham Hotspur.

Fry's game was probably a little too refined for the hurly-burly of professional football, and he never relished the physical excesses of some of the tackles. He achieved his aim of international honours when (along with Southampton's goalkeeper, Jack Robinson), he was picked to play as a full-back for England in the match against Ireland on 9 March 1901 (played in Southampton).[12]

The following season (1901–1902), Southampton reached the FA Cup Final, playing against Sheffield United,[32] which was was drawn 1-1,[12] but Southampton lost the replay, 2-1. Although he had moments during the cup run in which he excelled, his tackling ability has been questioned. Fry played in all eight of the FA Cup games for Southampton that season, but in only nine League matches, with Bill Henderson being forced to give way whenever Fry was available.[33] The following season he played twice at centre-forward, without success, but Southampton released him partly due to his lack of availability. He joined local rivals, Portsmouth, and made his debut for them on 21 January 1903. He became injured soon afterwards, and retired from the game.[12]

Rugby union

Fry also played Rugby union for the Oxford University RFC, Blackheath and the Barbarians.[30][34]

Acrobatics

According to a Manchester newspaper, Fry was able, from a stationary position on the floor, to leap backwards onto a mantelpiece.[3][4]

Career outside sport

Teaching

Fry graduated from Oxford, having shown, according to Alan Gibson, that he was a scholar comparable with John Simon and F.E. Smith, his contemporaries at Wadham. He became a teacher at Charterhouse,[12] and in 1908 he became Director of the Training Ship Mercury,[27] a nautical school primarily designed to prepare boys for service in the Royal Navy (though initially this was primarily the interest of his wife, Beatrice). The Frys devoted almost forty years to this work. Though it was less lauded than most of his achievements, he was very proud of it. He was eventually given the rank of captain in the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR). Alan Gibson wrote: "He... would stride about in his uniform looking, as I think it was Robertson-Glasgow who said, every inch like six admirals."[35]

Politics

As far back as his time at Wadham College, Fry had been interested in politics, but admitted: "I take a great interest in heaps of things that I know nothing about... politics for one".[10]

He stood (unsuccessfully) as a Liberal candidate for parliament for the Brighton constituency in 1922.[8] Gladstone sent him a goodwill message, although Fry insisted that he was an independent. He won 22,059 votes, 4,785 fewer than the Conservative victor. He later fought the seats of Banbury in 1923, losing by just 224 votes, and the Oxford by-election in 1924, where he was defeated by 1,842 votes.[36]

Through his friendship with Ranjitsinhji, Fry became an adviser to the Indian delegation at the League of Nations (which included Ranji) in Geneva. He claimed to have been offered the throne of Albania while at Geneva, in 1920.[32] Whether this offer genuinely occurred has been questioned, as Fry was famous for telling improbable stories and there is a lack of any mention of this offer by Albanian sources.[37]

Writing, editing, publishing and broadcasting

CB Fry's Magazine, July 1905, The Edwardian sports magazine edited by England's great all-rounder

The books which Fry wrote include:

He is also believed to have written much of The Jubilee Book of Cricket (1897), of which the nominal author was Ranji.[42] He wrote prefaces and introductions for a number of other cricket books, and wrote articles on cricket and football for Strand Magazine in the early years of the 20th century.[43] In the 1930s, he wrote a column for the London Evening Standard, which covered many topics.[36] The column was credited with a considerable increase in the paper's circulation.[35] He launched and edited two magazines for boys, C.B. Fry's Magazine and The Captain,[44] but neither was very successful.[35] In his magazines he promoted toys such as the diabolo.

His broadcasting career began in 1936 with commentary for the BBC on a match between Middlesex and Surrey. He declined to join the panel on Any Questions but in 1945 began a successful stint on the Brains Trust. In 1946 he was one of the BBC radio commentary team for the Tests between England and India.[45] In 1953 he gave a 3 hour interview to the BBC which was edited down to 30 minutes for the programme Frankly Speaking. In 1955, he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews for the fifth episode of the new television show This is your life.[30] Amongst the friends gathered to relive his best moments were Jack Hobbs and Sydney Barnes.[30]

Later life

In the 1920s, Fry's mental health started to deteriorate severely. He had encountered mental health problems earlier in his life, experiencing a breakdown during his final year at Oxford which meant that although academically brilliant he achieved a poor degree. In India in the late 1920s, he had a major breakdown and became deeply paranoid. For the rest of his life, he dressed in bizarrely unconventional clothes and often had frighteningly eccentric interludes. He developed a horror of Indians, including his old friend Ranjitsinhji.[30] He did recover enough to become a popular writer on cricket and other sports, and even into his sixties he entertained hopes of becoming a Hollywood star. According to noted cricket writer David Frith, in his book Pageant of Cricket, C.B. Fry was occasionally seen running stark naked down Brighton Beach during his less stable interludes.[30]

In 1934, he met Adolf Hitler and was enthralled by him.[30] He failed to persuade von Ribbentrop that Nazi Germany should take up cricket to Test level. Some members of the Hitler Youth were welcomed at TS Mercury, and Fry was still enthusiastic about them in 1938, just prior to the outbreak of war.[46]

He retired from his position at TS Mercury in 1950, and died in 1956, in Hampstead, London.[47][46] The English writer and critic, Neville Cardus, wrote the following words for Fry's obituary:

"Fry must be counted among the most fully developed and representative Englishmen of his period; and the question arises whether, had fortune allowed him to concentrate on the things of the mind, not distracted by the lure of cricket, a lure intensified by his increasing mastery over the game, he would not have reached a high altitude in politics or critical literature. But he belonged – and it was his glory – to an age not obsessed by specialism; he was one of the last of the English tradition of the amateur, the connoisseur, and, in the most delightful sense of the word, the dilettante."[30]

His ashes were buried in the graveyard of Repton Parish Church, next to Repton School's Priory. His former trainer, Forman, is buried close by.[6] In 2008, his grandson, Jonathan Fry (chairman of the governors at Repton), was in attendance at the rededication of Fry's grave, which was inscribed with, "1872 C B Fry 1956. Cricketer, Scholar, Athlete, Author - The Ultimate All Rounder'."[6]

Honours

Southampton F.C

Two types of Brighton and Hove buses (429 and 829), were named "C B FRY" in his honour.[48]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Steer, Duncan (2003). Cricket: The Golden Age. Cassell illustrated. ISBN 1-84403-237-X.  "Footballer, cricketer, politician and polymath C.B. Fry, now commander of a Royal Navy training ship"
  2. ^ Arlott 1984, pp. 20–23.
  3. ^ a b Wilton, Iain (June 2004). "Charles Fry - Up with the Gods". ESPN. http://www.espncricinfo.com/wisdencricketer/content/story/141256.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "The great all-rounder - C.B. Fry". angelfire. http://www.angelfire.com/biz4/bigbrian/fry.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Charles Fry". Oxford University Association Football Club. http://www.ouafc.com/varsity/players/117. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Devitt, Laurie (19 February 2009). "A Sporting Great's Grave Rededicated". Staffordshire Newspapers Ltd. http://www.burtonmail.co.uk/News/A-sporting-greats-grave-rededicated.htm. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Arlott 1984, p. 20.
  8. ^ a b c d "Q & A: C B Fry - renaissance man . . . and scrambling's heady days". The Independent. 7 November 1993. http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/q--a-c-b-fry--renaissance-man----and-scramblings-heady-days-1502559.html. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Roberts 1958, p. 159.
  10. ^ a b c Roberts 1958, p. 160.
  11. ^ Arlott 1984, p. 20-23.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Simkin, John. "C. B. Fry". Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SOUTHfry.htm. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "First-class season records of Lord Hawke". Cricket Archive. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Players/0/189/f_Batting_by_Season.html. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  14. ^ "Other matches played by Lord Hawke". Cricket Archive. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Players/0/189/Other_matches.html. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "England v Australia - Australia in British Isles 1905 (5th Test)". Cricket Archive Oracles. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/6/6862.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  16. ^ "South Africa in British Isles 1907 (3rd Test)". Cricket Archive Oracles. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/7/7431.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  17. ^ "County Championship 1903". Cricket Archive Oracles. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/6/6206.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  18. ^ "Yorkshire v Sussex County Championship 1904". CricketArchive Oracles. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/6/6479.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  19. ^ "Sussex v Yorkshire County Championship 1904". Cricket Archive Oracles. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/6/6597.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  20. ^ "Oxford University v Cambridge University University Match 1895". Cricket Archive Oracles. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/4/4374.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  21. ^ "Gentlemen of England v I Zingari". Cricket Archive Oracles. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/4/4352.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "Nottinghamshire v Sussex County Championship 1896". Cricket Archive Oracles. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/4/4670.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  23. ^ Harris 1970, p. 16.
  24. ^ The sequence was framed by scores in the 80s, so he nearly made it eight consecutive hundreds. For Sussex he scored 88 and 106 against Hampshire (scorecard), 209 against Yorkshire (scorecard), 149 against Middlesex (scorecard), 105 against Surrey (scorecard), 140 against Kent (scorecard), and then in his last innings of the season, for Rest of England, he scored 105 against the County Champions Yorkshire (scorecard). In his first innings of 1902, he scored 82 for London County against Surrey (scorecard). Donald Bradman equalled the record of six consecutive centuries in 1938-39, and Mike Procter did so again in 1970-71 [1]
  25. ^ "Hampshire v Gloucestershire County Championship 1911". Cricket Archive Oracles. 2003-2012. http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/8/8545.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  26. ^ Arlott 1984, p. 21.
  27. ^ a b Sentance 2006, p. 223.
  28. ^ Wilde 2005, pp. 51–52.
  29. ^ Wilde 2005, p. 233.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h Hotten, Jon (15 June 2011). "The sheer unlikeliness of CB Fry". The Dabbler. http://thedabbler.co.uk/2011/06/the-sheer-unlikeliness-of-cb-fry/. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  31. ^ a b "Oxford Men The Victors". New York Times. 17 July 1894. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9F02E2DD1730E033A25754C1A9619C94659ED7CF&oref=slogin. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  32. ^ a b Wilton, Iain. "C.B. Fry - An English Hero". authorsonline. http://www.authorsonline.co.uk/book/37/C.B.+Fry+-+An+English+Hero/. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  33. ^ Chalk & Holley 1991, p. 165.
  34. ^ "C.B. Fry". Repton School. 2009. http://www.repton.org.uk/cb-fry. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  35. ^ a b c Gibson 1989, pp. 102–108.
  36. ^ a b c Marshall & Howe 2001, p. 182.
  37. ^ Carr 1977.
  38. ^ The Book of Cricket: A Gallery of Famous Players. Author: Charles Burgess Fry. Publisher: Newnes (1899)
  39. ^ Great Batsmen, Their Methods at a Glance, by George W. Beldam and Charles B. Fry. Publisher: Macmillan (1905)
  40. ^ Fry 2011.
  41. ^ Key-book of the League of Nations by C. B. Fry: With a Chapter on the Disarmament Question by Prince Ranjitsinhji, Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar. Authors: C. B. Fry, Ranjitsinhji. Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton (1923)
  42. ^ Arlott 1984, p. 171.
  43. ^ Search on Abebooks with Author field "C.B. Fry".
  44. ^ Harris & Lee 1986, p. 145.
  45. ^ Martin-Jenkins 1990.
  46. ^ a b Robson, David (20 September 1989). "New light shed on CB Fry: A brilliant cricketer, a memorable character". ESPN. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/83956.html. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  47. ^ "England / Players / C.B. Fry". ESPN. http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/12930.html. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  48. ^ "Names on the buses". History Buses. http://history.buses.co.uk/history/fleethist/429cf.htm. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 

References

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Johnny Douglas
English national cricket captain
1912
Succeeded by
Johnny Douglas
Preceded by
Ranjitsinhji
Sussex county cricket captain
1904–1906
Succeeded by
C. L. A. Smith
Preceded by
C. L. A. Smith
Sussex county cricket captain
1907–1908
Succeeded by
C. L. A. Smith