Cricket: Fraser a model of rare modesty

Fifth Test: A fast medium bowler who is anything but ordinary was the catalyst for a long-awaited celebration; England's Trojan was instrumental in the series victory but as usual he shunned the glory. By Henry Blofeld

FOR THREE overs on this dramatic last morning, Angus Fraser gave a display of pure, unassuming professionalism which will not often be equalled, let alone surpassed, and it was so unobtrusive that it may have gone unnoticed by many people. Of course, he took the important wicket of Allan Donald and hardly anyone in the country will have failed to notice that.

He bowled three overs from the Kirkstall Lane End coming down that long, angled run, looking, as always, as if the cares of the world were upon his shoulders. With South Africa as desperate for runs as he was for wickets, he bowled three faultless maidens.

The pressure must have been as acute as even he can have experienced, although those two Test Matches in Port of Spain at the start of the year will have been useful practice. He now bowled his first over to Shaun Pollock. Every ball was on the spot, asking questions of the batsman's defensive technique.

His second over was to Donald. Again, each ball was on a length, probing a slightly more vulnerable than technique than Pollock's. There was nothing in the least stereotyped about his bowling either; every ball was different and one could sense the relief in Donald at the end of the over that he had survived the ordeal.

After each over, Fraser took his sleeveless sweater from the umpire and trudged off to fine leg. There was no visible emotion; no excitement, no disappointment, no eager anticipation either. He was doing a job he has done all his life and which he now does better than anyone else. It was another day at the office and nothing was going to distract him.

Back he trudged for his third over and Donald was still the batsman. In he came again, plodding at the double down that well worn route, like an old fashioned policeman closing in for an arrest. Over came the arm, forward went Donald, the ball thudded into Alec Stewart's gloves and the ecstatic appeal erupted to the heavens.

Up went the umpire's finger and Fraser allowed himself a red-faced grin as he was submerged by his colleagues. But there was still work to be done and he did not waste too much time in celebration and by the time the last man, Makhaya Ntini, had arrived at the crease, Fraser was back at his mark waiting in an orderly manner rather than champing at the bit.

Ntini kept out the five remaining balls and Fraser returned to fine leg ready to do it all over again in the over after the next. It never came to that, as Darren Gough accounted for Ntini with the help of another raised umpire's finger that set the bloodhounds on to the replay trail, doing all they could to find a reason why it was not out.

Fraser galloped to the middle to join in the celebrations but even at this moment one got the impression that an inner voice was telling him not to overstep the mark. As the crowd invaded the grounds and Fraser and the others ran off, he will have been satisfied with his morning's work of 3-3-0-1. But, again, nothing over the top.

This year he has taken 51 wickets for England, 27 of them in the West Indies to equal John Snow's record for a series, and now 24 against South Africa - 18 in the last two Tests - and to think many people would have played Alan Mullally ahead of him at Trent Bridge, where he took five in each innings.

Has there ever been a more consummate professional than Angus Fraser or a more admirable cricketer? He received just an honourable mention in the final roll call of the players of the series during the presentations. That will not have worried him. As he fastened his seat-belt before the drive back to London, he will have been content with the satisfaction which comes from knowing that a job has been well done.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before