Eric Freeman: The forgotten cricketer who loved the game


by Mayukh Ghosh

December 17, 1969.
The Australian team, on their way to the Dum Dum airport, finds an enthusiastic bunch of people willing to throw stones at their team bus.
The stones shatter all the windows as the cricketers lie down on the floor, fearing that they will be dragged out and then stoned to death.
One stone flies through the open window and narrowly misses Eric Freeman's head.
" I felt it as it went past. If it had hit me I would have been history.", he later recalled.
With exceptional presence of mind he collects the stone, vowing to send to Sir Donald Bradman as a Christmas present!

It all started on the previous day.
India lost the Test match by 10 wickets and Eden Gardens erupted.
They were keen to attack Pataudi, the captain of the Indian team.
Bill Lawry helped him get away from the mob.
Back in their hotel, the Australians decided to throw a small team celebration.
Some photographers, in an attempt to get pictures, invaded the party.
They were not allowed to get in but once the party was over, they, accompanied by some reporters, huddled outside the door of the room occupied by Freeman and Mallett. 
Freeman recalled: " A few of us were sitting around having a few drinks with not much on, when there was this knock at the door. It's this photographer wanting to take our pictures. Well, I told him to piss off. Then he starts knocking again, so I tell him to go away a second time. Third time, he just opens the door, goes flash bang, and runs off down the stairs. Well, that was it. We'd really had enough. I set off after him, and I ran down three flights of stairs. When I caught up, I grabbed his shirt, but it just came off in my hand, so he got away...."

Eric Freeman could play as well.
During the summer, he played cricket.
And in winter, it was football for Port Adelaide.

It was cricket that made him a star in South Australia.
His first scoring shot in Test matches was a six off Erapalli Prasanna.
An attractive stroke-maker who could bowl long spells of medium pace.
But it was his fielding at short-leg that drew most of the attention.

During the Boxing Day Test in 1968, Seymour Nurse pulled Johnny Gleeson straight into the back of Freeman's head.
As Freeman grimaced, he could hear wicket-keeper Barry Jarman shouting, " He's out! He's out!"
Freeman thought: " Is he talking about me?"
Not quite. 
Stackpole did catch the rebound.
Freeman stayed on the field until Australia won the match .
Afterwards, he complained of a mild headache.

Eric Freeman is largely forgotten.
He did nothing worth remembering all these years later.
Other than playing the game he loved, giving all what he had.

Eric Freeman was born on July 13, 1944.