Cricket mourns 'Bearders' of the stats

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The Independent Online

The cricketing world is mourning the loss of legendary statistician and broadcaster Bill Frindall tonight after his death from Legionnaire's disease.

Frindall was the Test Match Special (TMS) scorer from 1966 and was christened 'The Bearded Wonder' by late commentator Brian Johnston for his encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket facts.

It is believed he contracted the disease in Dubai, where he had been on a tour with the Lord's Taverners.

The 69-year-old's death will come as a sad loss to countless cricket fans around the world.

His astonishing ability to recall the most obscure and arcane snippets of cricket trivia was as much a part of the TMS experience as the runs, wickets and discussions about cake.

Jonathan Agnew, the BBC cricket correspondent and Frindall's colleague in the commentary box, said he brought scoring alive for many listeners.

"The weird world of cricket scoring to many people is incredibly dull but Bill made it interesting, he made it lively," he told the BBC.

"He was immortalised by Brian Johnston, who called him 'The Bearded Wonder' because you could throw any question at Bill, any fact or figure, and with great relish he would know it."

Gordon Turnbull, the head of BBC Radio Sport, said Frindall used wit and humour to bring the mysteries of scoring to life for listeners around the world.

"Bill was an iconic figure in the Test Match Special commentary box and was the sport's most celebrated and respected statistician," he said.

"The longest serving member of the TMS team, he was supremely popular and much loved by cricket fans everywhere, who liked nothing better than to try to 'stump' him with obscure questions about the game. Bill was never knowingly stumped!

"Bill has been integral to the sound, style and success of TMS for the past 42 years. He will be hugely missed and impossible to replace."

Frindall wrote a popular blog on the BBC website called "Stump Bearders" where he invited cricket lovers to test his knowledge of the sport by emailing obscure questions.

The final entry included answers on Test cricketers of Greek origin, high first innings totals scored by teams going on to lose the match, and players who had taken a wicket, scored a century and made a stumping in Tests.

Frindall was born in Surrey but more recently lived in Wiltshire with his wife and daughter.

A schoolmaster introduced him to cricket scoring one rainy sports afternoon when he was a boy, and he went on to cover more than 377 Test matches, including 246 in England.

Away from the microphone, he published a large number of books on cricket statistics including four editions of the Wisden Book of Cricket Records, and edited the highly-respected Playfair Cricket Annual every year from 1986.

In 1998 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Staffordshire University for his contribution to the field of statistics.

He was awarded an MBE for services to cricket and broadcasting in 2004.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said he was held in great affection by the cricket community.

Hugh Morris, the managing director of the England team and a former test player, said: "He will be much missed not only by millions of radio listeners worldwide but also by the fraternity of cricketing scorers in England and Wales whose work he did so much to champion.

"On behalf of the many past and present England players who considered him a good friend, I would like to send our condolences to his family."

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